WIT Press

Institutional Reforms In Lebanon’s Commercial Ports: Opportunities And Challenges


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WIT Press


M Hadi Baaj


On December 3 1, 1990, the concession contract signed between the State and a private company for the Port of Beirut operation expired. The State (just coming out of a prolonged 15-year civil war) elected to take a \“temporary” measure. It appointed a temporary commission to operate the port under the rules of the expiring concession. The legality of this measure, however, has since always been questioned, while the temporary commission underwent three major personnel changes which clearly prevented any long-term thinking or planning. In 1998, the temporary commission entered into a USD 200 Million 20-year joint venture for the establishment of a container terminal Thus, the need became urgent to develop a permanent institutional framework for the port of Beirut. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s three other ports were inefficient public institutions and it was desirable that the model proposed for Beirut could also be applicable to them. This situation provided an opportunity for the Government to concurrently rethink its role in the maritime transport sector. There was a clear need to initiate institutional reforms that would ensure the clear separation of Government policy-making from economic and social regulation of the sector (while assessing the need for an independent regulator), and port operation and service delivery. This paper presents the port organization models that were investigated, the multiobjective decision making approach that guided the model selection, the institutional reforms, and the proposed implementation plan. 1 Introduction Since 1887, the Port of Beirut had been operated by a single private company under a concession contract which awarded the company exclusive rights for