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How Tripoli’s port ‘stepped in’ after ‘apocalyptic’ Beirut blast | Lebanon News



Tripoli, Lebanon – On August 4, several ships were making their way through the Mediterranean Sea towards the port of Beirut to offload shipments of wheat, medicine and steel, among others.

But when the clock struck 6:08pm in Lebanon, a huge explosion at Beirut port’s now-infamous Hangar 12 sent strong shockwaves through the sea. They were felt all the way to Cyprus.

Caused by the detonation of nearly 3,000 tonnes of unsecured ammonium nitrate, the explosion created what many describe as an apocalypse, wreaking unprecedented havoc across the city. In a flash of a second, thousands of buildings were destroyed, at least 180 residents were killed, and about 6,000 people injured.

At sea, port authorities and ship owners quickly communicated with their captains, directing them further north along the Lebanese coast towards the port of Tripoli.

For more than a week, ships carrying goods to Lebanon – a country that imports about 80 percent of what it consumes – docked in Tripoli instead of Beirut.

With Beirut port receiving 70 percent of all the country’s imports before the incident, many observers expected Tripoli’s smaller port to falter.

But the northern port, known for its vital role as a transit point for sea trade to Iraq and Syria, stepped in fully for Beirut, taking on a vital economic role for the country.

The quick response and efficient flow of goods into Tripoli saved Lebanon from an impending food crisis, said Tripoli’s port authorities, and kept the small Mediterranean country’s already-struggling economy afloat. 

Tripoli steps in

From August 4-12, Tripoli’s port became the main destination for ships carrying general cargo and containers carrying everything from food, medicine and building materials to Lebanon.

“Tripoli’s port was working at only 40 percent of its capacity before of the incident,” said Ahmad Tamer, general manager of Tripoli’s port, explaining that years of political instability in the region – and more recently the coronavirus pandemic – had significantly slowed down the economy. 

“And so when the blast hit, we were more than capable of filling in for Beirut,” he said.

He added the redirection of Lebanese imports to Tripoli helped ensure that Lebanon did not go hungry.

With about 85 percent of Lebanon’s wheat supply usually coming through Beirut’s port, the United Nations’s food programme had predicted the country would run out of bread in two-and-a-half weeks after the blast.

But that was not the case. “Everyone expected a wheat crisis, but we filled in and received the shipments,” said Tamer.

Tamer explained that although Tripoli’s port is relatively smaller compared with Beirut’s, its “logistical infrastructure and services” were advanced enough to allow it to manage the instant increase in the volume of goods.

While Tripoli’s receipt of the majority of Lebanon’s imports was only needed for a short time, Tamer said it had the capacity to take on the role of filling in for Beirut “for several months” rather than just a week, “without any compromise on quality of services”.

A port employee trains on a container crane in Tripoli’s port [File: Bilal Hussein/AP]

Division of labour

About 10 days after the blast, which wiped out Beirut’s port and much of the city, the facility was relatively back on its feet and capable of taking back most of the containers it used to receive. 

According to Hassan Dannoui, acting chairman and general manager of Tripoli’s special economic zone, while vessels carrying containers have returned to Beirut, the majority of cargo and bulk shipments continue to dock at Tripoli’s port.

“We’ve gone back to the pretty much the same situation before the blast, except that the volume of cargo coming to Tripoli is higher,” said Dannoui.

According to Tamer, the port manager: “Before the explosion, Tripoli was taking 50-60 percent of all general cargo coming to Lebanon, but now we are receiving 80-90 percent of it.”

Ports usually take in materials, for import and export purposes, at two main cargo terminals – the conventional cargo terminal, which specialises in bulk goods such as wheat, grains, building materials; or a container terminal that deals with goods shipped inside steel containers. 

Unlike cargo, goods imported in containers usually do not need further storage facilities at the port.

According to figures in 2019, Beirut port’s carrying capacity for containers was at least 1.3 million, whereas Tripoli’s stood at about 300,000-400,000. Estimates given by both ports indicate that Tripoli and Beirut have a similar capacity for cargo.

While the cargo terminal is important, it is considered commercially and strategically less valuable to the container terminal. 

Back to Beirut

“Beirut’s port is back 100 percent,” Bassem el-Kaissi, the general director of the port of Beirut, told Al Jazeera, explaining a task force cleared the port docks and repaired cranes and other equipment to allow for the return of most containers.

El-Kaissi was appointed on August 11 after an arrest warrant was issued against the port’s former manager, Hassan Koraytem, as part of the investigation into the blast.

He said while loading, offloading and the transport of goods have gone back to normal, storage at Beirut port remains the main problem after 21 warehouses were destroyed.

Despite the destruction, the workflow has been relatively smooth at Beirut’s port, according to businessmen and customs workers.

Bassem Bawab, the owner of an import company in Lebanon, said although the movement of goods is now slower than before the blast, work has been rather efficient.

“The process of getting our goods out of the port and to our own warehouses takes more time and money than before because the administrative offices have been affected,” said Bawab. “Otherwise, work has been fine.”

Because Bawab only uses containers to transport his goods and has his own warehouses in the city, ships carrying his goods returned to Beirut as soon as it was operational again.

And unlike other cargo companies that may need storage, he has been mostly unaffected by the fact that Beirut’s port has lost its free zone and storage facilities in the blast.

“Companies that do need storage have to pay more for storage outside the port,” said Bawab.

Another service affected by the blast at Beirut port are customs, which have been relocated to Beirut’s Rafic Hariri airport after the blast.

According to Wael Kabbani, a partner at a company dealing in customs clearance at Lebanon’s port and airports, although the lack of administrative buildings at the port make customs clearance a little more time consuming, the process has been smooth because of the smaller volume of imports coming through Beirut.

“The effects of the blast haven’t been huge because the economy had shrunk for several months,” said Kabbani. “The volume of cargo we’ve been clearing since the start of 2020 has been about 60-70 percent less than before.”

An internal assessment completed by Beirut port authorities on August 27 indicated the damage caused by the blast will require up to a year and $1bn to repair, said el-Kaissi.

Port politics

Although many have commended Beirut port’s quick return to operation, others believe more needs to be done to ensure those responsible for the explosion are held accountable.

According to Bassel Salloukh, an associate professor of political science at the Lebanese American University, the port of Beirut in many ways embodied the political economy of corruption and sectarianism in Lebanon after the civil war.

“The way the sectarian system invites the lack of accountability, the lack of transparency, and corruption … these put together led to the explosion in Beirut,” he said.

Lebanese economic journalist Mohamed Wehbe agreed. “The structure of Beirut port is modelled around, and a reflection of, the confessional system in the country.

“It was established to represent the political and economic groups that have gained and maintained financial power after the civil war,” he added.

Judicial investigator Judge Fadi Sawan has issued at least 25 arrest warrants as part of a continuing investigation into the explosion.

None of the politicians in charge when the chemicals were stored at the port since 2013 has been interrogated.

Source –


Year of the Overcomer-Prophet Elvis Mbonye



The eagerly awaited first fellowship of controversial Prophet Elvis Mbonye left viewers shocked as he declined to issue his now famous prophecies citing a refusal to settle for the new normal. In an on online service watched by thousands, the Prophet said him prophesying would “ be a concession to gathering online, rather than physically” further stating that it is not the will of God that church should meet online!

The Covid-19 SOPs given by the government and Ministry of Health have heavily impacted gatherings and as a result, ministries with large congregations have resorted to online services. The prophet however insists that this is a ploy to diminish the influence of the Kingdom of God.

He however proceeded to give the Prophetic Word of the year , saying “This is the year of the Overcomers” amidst cheers from those present. He also stated that this would not be a “gloomy” year, probably meaning that this would be a good year. Given that many of his prophecies have actually come to pass, should we pay more attention to him? We eagerly await the prophecies this year.

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Kabuleta blasts Media over “COFIT” reporting in new rant.



Presidential hopeful Joseph Kiiza Kabuleta has expressed dissatisfaction with the media over what he says was”alarmist reporting” over the Covid-19 pandemic which he calls “COFIT” a term we believe is a wordplay between covid and profit, a view held by many that claims that the disease was exaggerated to maximize funding and corruption. Kabuleta has come to be known for his straight shooting style and admirable command of facts and policy, even being touted as the “smartest candidate” in the is the full statement:


By Joseph Kabuleta

“Don’t look at where you fell, but where you slipped”

We know where the media fell. They fell when they were caught in the crossfire between opposition politicians and trigger-happy security hitmen; when they were unfairly targeted as they went about their noble duty of covering this explosive elective season. Sadly, some journalists are nursing wounds; others weren’t so lucky.
But it’s important for us to understand where they slipped.

If someone is sitting by the roadside sipping on his brew and he sees a gang of people sprinting past him, as if for their lives, it’s understandable if he impulsively joins without asking questions. But if after nine months he is still sprinting, and has still not asked any questions, then there’s something terribly wrong with him.

When we first went into lockdown in March, it was probably the best course of action because we didn’t know the full extent of the Cofit threat. But in the first 90 days, it was clear to all and sundry that it was never going to rank among Uganda’s top health challenges. And that’s not my opinion.

The Daily Monitor on July 15th quoted Dr Baterana Byarugaba, the Mulago Hospital Executive Director, describing the Cofit strain in the country as a mild form of flu which does not require hospital admission since it can be treated at home or in lower health facilities.
“l told Ugandans right from the beginning that the type of coronavirus we expect in Uganda is the mild one. It can be treated at health centre II, III, IV or the district hospital,” the top Medic said.

I read the story with glorious delight supposing that finally common sense, (or should I say science sense) would inform our decisions as a nation. But it’s difficult to know where science stops and politics starts. It’s become clear over the months that Cofit is not just a virus that causes respiratory problems, it’s a lot more than that; it’s a weapon in the hands of politicians that gives them power beyond their wildest dreams. In America, for instance, Democrat Congressman Jim Clyburn said Cofit is a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our (leftist) vision” while actress and activist Jane Fonda said that Cofit was “God’s gift to the left.”

Our media could have taken the side of poor Ugandans by showing the immense suffering and death from preventable sicknesses that resulted from the harsh Cofit measures; they could have highlighted the plight of businesses permanently closed and workers rendered redundant and sent back to villages. They could have wondered why truck drivers were testing negative in Kenya and positive in Uganda, or wondered why Cofit deaths only started after Prophet Museveni showed us a macabre lineup of coffins in his address, or why every celebrity who dies since then is ruled as Cofit (no autopsy required)

They could have told us that according to Worldometer, Cofit has a 0.28% mortality rate (or a 99.72 survival rate) and that it doesn’t rank anywhere in the Top 10 of Uganda’s health challenges; they could have told us that a child dies of malaria every two minutes (and Uganda accounts for 3% of the world’s malaria fatalities), which means that more Ugandans die from mosquitoes in ten days than Cofit has (allegedly) killed in the nine months it’s been on our lips.

Ugandans (especially of my age) have lived through real pandemics. As a young man growing up in the early 90s, nobody had to remind me that AIDS was real. Goodness me, I knew it was! And I didn’t need police to force me to wear protection, I knew the consequences. The fact that we are constantly being reminded that ‘Cofit is real’ tells a story of its own.

The media could have asked why Uganda, with one of the lowest Cofit cases or deaths, still holds on to a 9:00pm curfew when Kenya moved to 11:00pm in September, as did South Africa and several countries. The media could have told us that Malawi, Burundi, Tanzania and, recently, Ghana all held successful elections with full blown campaigns in 2020, and we aren’t hearing people dropping dead from Cofit in any of those countries. May be they should have tried to find out if people are dropping dead in Tanzania which altogether ignored all Cofit measures and went on to acquire middle-income status while Ugandans were still in lockdown.

They could have told us about the asymptomatic Cofit patients who were filmed dancing the night away in hospital wards, or of people suffering from other diseases who dare not go to hospital because they fear to be given a fake Cofit label and held for two weeks against their will.

The media could have told us that Cofit deaths across the world have been grossly inflated. Minnesota lawmakers say Cofit deaths could have been inflated by 40% after examining death certificates (according to The Washington Examiner) while Fox News reported that in Colorado 45% of Cofit corpses “were also found to have bullet wounds”.

They could have told us that 22 European countries, all of which had tens of thousands of Cofit deaths, opened their schools in the fall, and there has not been any reported spikes in cases as a result. They could have told us that more people have been killed by security men enforcing Cofit measures than by the virus itself.

Well, they could have…but they didn’t. And that’s where they slipped.

Instead they chose to go down the path of alarmist reporting and in so doing became, inadvertently or otherwise, enablers of Uganda’s trillion-shilling Cofit enterprise. Like Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the media used flowery language to drum up fear by keeping people’s eyes transfixed on swelling numbers while the thieves carried their loot and stashed it away, and loan money was distributed among family members or used in regime prolongation.

The recent joint television news bulletin, and the adverts that followed, were the peak of hysterical reporting. “Zuukuka Tusaanawo” (wake up, we are perishing) screamed an advert featuring top media personalities. What a load of……(fill in appropriate word).

Remember, all the tyranny we have witnessed in this season has been done in the name of Cofit, and such sensationalist reporting justifies it; it gives dictators like Museveni the perfect pseudo-moralistic cover to unleash their most despotic fantasies while actually pretending that it’s for the good of the people. Unfortunately, the terror has now spread to the very media people whose hyperbole enabled it in the first place. There is such a thing as the law of cause and consequence, after all.

Instead of the media walking out of pressers and threatening to boycott government functions, let them threaten to stop all Cofit reporting. Museveni himself would come running with chocolate in hand.

If the president extended curfew by just two hours, for instance, he will have put as many as 200,000 Ugandans back to work especially in the hotel, restaurant and entertainment industries; but he doesn’t care, and sadly neither do many middleclass Ugandans who suppose that it’s their moral obligation as responsible citizens of the Global Village to fret over Cofit just because their ‘fellow citizens’ in Europe and America are doing so. Of course they can afford to do that because their corporate jobs have, for the most part, insulated them from the devastation of the government-instituted Cofit measures. They can enjoy working at home, beer in hand, as they listen to CNN and BBC and still expect the full complement of their salaries at the month end, and that makes them feel every bit like ‘their brothers’ overseas.

Such aspirational conformists are more likely to be offended by my stance on Cofit because they haven’t traversed crook and creek of this country and seen the damage reigned on this fragile society; not by the virus, but by the measures supposedly instituted to mitigate it.

You see, perhaps the most enduring damage this regime has done to our society is creating a three-part hierarchy of class and needs. At the zenith are a handful of connected ‘1986 generation’ and their families who feel entitled to all power and wealth. Beneath is a small (and shrinking) middleclass, and at the bottom of the pyramid is a mass of peasants. Every society, to various degrees, is ordered in the same fashion, but what makes Uganda unique is that the megalomaniacs at the top don’t give a nickel about the plight of the middleclass and the middleclass in turn don’t care a bit about the quandary of the peasant. The charlatans at the top will impose punitive taxes on the middleclass, then dip into NSSF coffers at a whim to share out their savings, and no one can stop them.

And the middleclass Ugandan, armed with his medical insurance, and safe in the knowledge that his wife is unlikely to die in child birth (20 Ugandans do EVERY DAY), and his children are very unlikely to die of malaria (20 do EVERY DAY), or from malnutrition (thousands do every year), will go around trumpeting Cofit because it’s more relevant to his status than malnutrition or malaria.

I could just as easily go down that path. I could also close my eyes to mothers failing to get breast milk because they can only afford half a meal a day (black tea with a piece of cassava), and the malnourished babies that emerge as a result; I could close my eyes to the teenage girls that were given out in marriage because schools closed, or those given out to meet family needs; I could ignore the fact that our president is opening 5-star markets in cities which have 1-star referral hospitals; I could also choose to look the other way and enjoy my middleclass lifestyle, but as an aspiring leader, I cannot.

As a leader, my aspiration is to remove the privileged/entitled class, to expand the middleclass (and their income), and to shrink the peasantry; but mostly to blur the lines that separate each category.
It doesn’t bode well for our country if the average Corporate Ugandan knows more about racism in America than about extreme poverty in Teso or Busoga because that disqualifies him/her from the solution to those local problems.

And finally, I have come to the realization that the biggest pandemic afflicting our country is poverty and the virus that causes it is called M7-1986. Vaccination against it is January 14

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Muntu Blocked in Kamwenge



Alliance for National Transformation presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu has been blocked from campaigning in Kamwenge according to a statement he released earlier today.Below is the full statement:

Today in Kamwenge, as we have done since the start of the campaign season, we headed out to speak with the people. We had earlier in the week agreed on the venue with security agencies. No one had anticipated that it would rain as much as it did, making it impossible for us or the people to access.

After identifying an alternative place only 100m away from the original venue, negotiating with the owner and communicating the same to the public, we headed to the second venue only to be stopped by police.

Our policy has always been to do all we can to be reasonable, even in the face of unreasonable action on the part of the state. We engaged the police leadership in a civilized, respectable manner well knowing that they intended to not only frustrate us, but cause us to act in ways that would give them an excuse to cause chaos. This was on top of their intimidating the radio we had booked and duly paid to appear on.

While we are confident that we are on the right side of both the law and reason, we have chosen not to endanger the lives of our supporters or the general public by escalating the situation. We will do everything humanly possible to avoid a single life being lost or blood being shed on account of our campaign.

And yet this truth remains: the regime’s days are numbered.



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