PARIS, France: A French container company says it will rebuild the destroyed Beirut port within three years.
CMA CGM group announced a plan to create a new port, despite the inability of Lebanon's deadlocked government to move forward on the reconstruction.
Beirut's port was flattened last August when a massive chemical explosion destroyed entire neighborhoods and killed a reported 200 people.
The CMA CGM plan includes the reconstruction of the destroyed docks and warehouses, as well as expanding the dock area, at an estimated cost of $400 to $600 million, according to Joe Dakkak, general manager CMA CGM Lebanon, who spoke on Saturday.
"Our offer remains on the table," he told Reuters. "Our project is a realistic one, because the situation is urgent."
Also, on Friday German companies proposed their own multi-billion-dollar plan to rebuild Beirut's port and nearby districts.
Dakkak also said CMA CGM was prepared to work with German companies on the rebuilding of the port and neighborhoods.
CMA CGM is controlled by the French-Lebanese Saade family.
Officials noted that the French government is not part of CMA CGM's reconstruction plan. However, French companies and financial institutions have shown interest in the project, and the Lebanese government has indicated that it would partner in the project through a public-private partnership.
After port equipment was destroyed during the blast, it now is taking double the time to load and unload cargo at the port, long known for its inefficient operations.
CMA CGM is the largest shipping operator at Beirut port, handling 60 percent of all shipping.
The French company is expected to offer a bid to operate the port when the tender is issued, possibly within weeks.