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Sidon Port

The development of Lebanon's ports is an integral part of the government's drive to encourage foreign exporters to use Lebanon as a transit point for goods to the Middle East, particularly once a regional peace settlement is reached.

Port of Sidon/Saida

Port of Sidon

Sidon/Saida Port

The development of Lebanon's ports is an integral part of the government's drive to encourage foreign exporters to use Lebanon as a transit point for goods to the Middle East, particularly once a regional peace settlement is reached. The most ambitious such plan is the construction of a new port in Sidon as part of an overall rehabilitation of the city and its coastline. The proposed port will specialize in trans- shipment and container handling with some multi-purpose terminals included.

The Sidon port project was conceived in summer 1994 and was initially intended to upgrade the existing Sidon port. A year later, the Sidon Port Authority (SPA) was contacted, reportedly through Prime Minister Hariri, by Fidelle, the holding company of the Lebanese-owned Compagnie Maritime d'Affrètement (CMA), one of the largest shipping companies in the world. Fidelle indicated that CMA was willing to invest in Sidon port and turn it into a regional trans-shipment center. The basin at the new Sidon port is to have a depth of 15 meters and will be able to accommodate the largest of cargo ships. With the interest shown by Fidelle, Hamburg Port Consultants were contracted in September 1995 to draw up a two- year feasibility study for a completely new port.

The Sidon port will be located to the south of the city on approximately 250 hectares of reclaimed land with a seafront of 1,800 meters. The port will include a 15-hectare multi-purpose terminal, a 41-hectare container terminal with an adjacent 11-hectare quay area, an 11-hectare commercial area, a 10-hectare free trade zone, and 10 hectares of green spaces. The total cost of the project is estimated at $400m ­ $300m in infrastructure costs and $100m in superstructure costs. It will be funded by a specially-established property company called Sidon Co. that will be similar to Solidere. The first stage of the study, involving the feasibility study, port design, and marine survey, is almost completed. The second stage will cover the geo- technical and engineering surveys and the preparation of tender documents by the Dar al-Handasah engineering company. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2007..

Sidon Co. will be formally established in the next few months with a capital of $150m. This is intended to finance 50% of the $300m infrastructure costs; the $100m superstructure costs will be met by contracted companies. Upon completion of the project, Sidon Co. will own the reclaimed land including the free zone, the multi-purpose terminal, and container terminal, and will be able to rent the stockyards to quay operators. Sidon Co. will also be responsible for the development of tourist facilities in Iskandar bay between the new port and the old port.

Development

The development of the Sidon port has cut back development of the Beirut port. Plans for a fifth basin at Beirut port have been scrapped. Although, Sidon port will mainly concentrate on sea-to-sea transport, the SPA fully anticipates an increase in imported goods through the port. To this end, the government intends to build a new highway that would begin beside the port and extend, through Jezzine, to the BiqaΠValley where it would meet up with the Beirut-Damascus highway. Since the route would run through an area occupied by Israel, construction cannot begin until the issue of Israel's presence in south Lebanon has been settled.

Objections to the project have been raised by those who fear that Mr. Hariri, a native Sidonian, will use the private company and its control over some 20% of the area of the city, to expand his political and economic influence. Moreover, the ecological and social changes which construction of the new port will cause may be far- reaching. Entire neighborhoods near the old port area may be irrevocably transformed by the decision to upgrade the access roads to the port.

Local worries aside, perhaps of greater consequence for the long-term future of the port is the competition it faces from Haifa in Israel and Aqaba in Jordan. The monopoly of access points to the hinterland of the Middle East is likely to be keenly contested once a regional peace settlement has been concluded. Many believe that goods are more likely to be transported through Israel and Jordan rather than Lebanon and Syria to reach the markets of Iraq and the Gulf. Furthermore, the Israeli government is about to embark upon a five-year plan to turn Haifa port into a deep water trans-shipment terminal. This will provide direct competition with Sidon. The Sidon port will be up and running before Haifa, however, and unlike the Israeli port it will have the advantage of being privately funded.

Information From the Ministry of Tourism

Lebanese Ministry of Tourism

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