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Destruction of Adloun Port, Lebanon


Description

Lebanon’s historic Adloun coast, believed to be the location of an ancient Phoenician port town and a valuable heritage, is being destroyed to build a port to be known as “Nabih Berri Fishermen’s Port”, named after the head of the Amal movement in Lebanon, a political party and an important Shi'a militia during the Lebanese Civil War, and the country's Speaker of Parliament since 1992. While the official announcement of the project was on 14 September 2014, bulldozers arrived on site on January 15, 2016, and started working without informing the locals.

Although there was some public and media outrage against the project at its initial phase, these mobilisations have died down. Two protests that got some media attention were the ones organised in Beirut, the first in front of the National Mesuem, by “The Coalition of organisations and civil society groups for Adloun” (تجمّع جمعيات وهيئات المجتمع المدني لأجل عدلون)* on January 22, 2016, and the second on 11 February, 2016 by the Civil Campaign to Protect the Dalieh of Raouche, which highlighted the corruption of State institutions and their protection of private interests, under the slogan: If you want to know what is happening in Adloun, you must know what is happening in Dalieh (إذا أردت أن تعرف ماذا في عدلون، فعليك أن تعرف ماذا في الدالية).

The majority of the public, especially the locals of Adloun, is scared to speak up against the project since it has the backing of Berri, and the region is dominated by his Amal party. As reported by one anonymous local, “no matter how much we object and launch campaigns against it, we know de facto that the new port will be built against our will. It all goes back to the power dynamics in Adloun and in Lebanon, in general.” [11].

The Ministries of Culture and Environment were also against the project, where the former demanded a halt to it until a joint committee assesses it, while the latter demanded stopping the project due to violation of EIA decree 8633, which states that ports require an EIA. [1] The Ministry of culture also sent two letters to the South Lebanon Governor asking him to stop all construction work, all to no avail. The Ministry of Public Works carried out with the excavation works, claiming that other ministries did not come up with alternative proposals for over 15 days, giving itself the de facto right to destroy the rocky coast. It is important to note that the Minister of Public works at the time, Gazi Zgheiter, had political ties with Nabih Berri, after whom the port is being named. A report by Al Akhbar provides more evidence of corruption, demonstrating that the $5 million excavation contract given to “Khoury Contracting Company” came under an irregular and unfair bid, [6] and with no consultation with the local community [2]. Of note, this company was recently also awarded a contract to operate the controversial Bourj Hammoud landfill.

The call by the Ministry of Environment to halt the project was in response to the organizing against the project, led by the local activist group Green Southeners, who were documenting the destruction of the beach, as well as highlighting its archeological and ecological significance, particularly as one of the few remaining sea turtle nesting grounds on the Lebanese coast. Local activists claim that Adloun is a historic site and the project will only bring destruction to the beach and its prehistoric caves and Phoenician ruins, and ruin the city’s historic identity. They sent a letter to the Ministry of environment asking it to classify the coast as a protected site of natural and cultural heritage and to forbid any kind of development to preserve its biological diversity. The Ministry of public works has retaliated that the new port will create jobs and help the local fishing community, while activists have responded that the purpose of the port is to accommodate 400 luxury yachts, being of no service to the local community while creating massive environmental damage to the village. Moreover, Dr. Maha El-Khalil, the head of the International Association to Safeguard Tyr, has claimed that there has not been a proper archeological excavation of the site, which is essential before planning construction on the site, and has refuted the claim that the project will provide jobs for the locals by saying that preservation and celebration of Adloun’s heritage will bring economic benefits, rather than creating yet another marina for the wealthy. [3]  Although some local groups are against the project, there does not seem to be massive organising to stop the project, and the former mayor of Adloun, Samih Wehbi, was supportive of the development, thanking Berri and Zeaiter for implementing a project everyone will benefit from. Meanwhile, during his visit to the site in the January of last year, Zeaiter announced that “To those who wanted to sabotage this work, we tell them that this vandalism will not make us back down on projects that we are working for [on behalf of] our people in the South.” [4] He was referring to activists setting fire to a machine belonging to the project contractor.  *The groups present were The Green Southeners, Greenline, NAHNOO, The Lebanese Eco Movement, and independent activists.

Basic Data

NameDestruction of Adloun Port, Lebanon
CountryLebanon
ProvinceSouth Lebanon
SiteAdloun
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Wetlands and coastal zone management
Land acquisition conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Ports and airport projects
Specific CommoditiesLand
Tourism services

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThere have been various archaeological excavations of Adloun beach dating back to the 1800s, where archaeological sites have been discovered dating back to the Middle Palaeolithic Age [7] . The current site where the project is ongoing has not been properly studied. However, Adloun beach has become yet another zone of public maritime domain seized for private interests and luxury development. As Habib Battah, a local investigative journalist, has reported, there are around 5 illegal resorts on public maritime property for every kilometre of Lebanon’s 220 Kilometre coastline. [5]

A report published by the University of Balamand, through the project “Environmental Resources Monitoring in Lebanon,” in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and with $1.64 million funding from the Government of Greece, found the Adloun coast as 1 out of 15 “sensitive” sites on the coast of Lebanon that require protection due to their ecological or cultural significance. [13]

The current port is to be both for fishermen and leisure boats, with a capacity of holding 400 yachts, as claimed by Director-General of Land and maritime transport Abdel-Hafiz Qaisi. [4] Part of the project includes building two breakwaters, the first with a length of 600 meters (Southerns side) and the second one of 240 meters (northern side). It will also include 9 births for fishermen and leisure boats, as well as storage area and fish market for the local fishermen. Finally, the project also includes establishing a public swimming pool, to be used by the locals. Half of the area of the project will be on public maritime property, while the other half by land reclamation. The location of the port blocks the only access to the public beach, since the rest of the beach has either been privatised or is inaccessible to the public due to the presence of private agricultural lands along the coastline, thus making the beach completely inaccessible to the public after the completion of the project. [11]

The rocks used to build the port are being transported from a nearby village, ِِAnsar, using trucks carrying the label of the public works ministry, where forests of oak trees are being cut down to extract the rocks, without a permit from the Ministry of Interior or from the Ministry of Environment (which requires an EIA for such quarrying activities). [8]

According to the Civil Campaign to Protect the Dalieh of Raouche, the coast where the project is ongoing consists of four big plots, which were bought by former Prime Minister Rafiq el Hariri in 1997 (around 45,000 square meters), and are now owned by his heirs. After Hariri bought these lands, the General Directorate of Urban Planning changed the zoning laws of these lands, changing their classification from agricultural to touristic lands, thus increasing the exploitation factor from 2% to 20%, all with the support of the Adloun municipality. Activists allege that the establishment of the port is only an initial step in the development of these lands to touristic resorts, which will also indirectly increase the market value of the plots. [13] Some anonymous activists also claim the Nabih Berri owns big plots of land near the port, and will benefit largely from the project.

شركة الجنوب للإعمار (South Company for Construction), which should have won the bid, filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Public works on 11 March 2015, through its attorney Ali Abbas, under the claims that public money was wasted during the first stage of the Adloun port works, [9] and won the case, after which the Shura Council asked Khoury Company to stop all construction works on the Adloun coast. [12]
Project Area (in hectares)16.4
Level of Investment (in USD)26,600,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date15/01/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesKhoury Contracting Company from Lebanon
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment

Ministry of Culture

Ministry of Public Works and Transport

Governor of South Lebanon
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersThe Green Southerners

The Civil Campaign to Protect the Dalieh of Raouche

NAHNOO

Greenline

The Lebanese Eco Movement

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
OtherLoss of archeological heritage
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Development of AlternativesThe Green Southerners propose reclaiming their archeological and cultural heritage as a means of preserving their historical identity.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project is ongoing and mobilisations against it by activists has halted.

Sources and Materials

Legislations

[1] Decree 8633 specifying conditions for conducting an EIA
http://erml.moe.gov.lb/Temp/Videos/8bf798e0-6502-47db-bb1f-eaabeeee83e2.pdf

Links

[2] Construction of Adloun Port demolishes ancient Phoenician town
http://al-akhbar.com/node/250426

[4] Zeaiter visits the site of the Adloun port project
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2016/Jan-11/331218-zeaiter-tours-southern-development-projects.ashx

[5] How the historic Adloun coast is becoming “Nabih Berri Port”
http://www.beirutreport.com/2016/01/how-the-historic-adloun-coast-is-becoming-nabih-berri-port.html

The Minister of Environment issues a notice to the Ministry of Public Works requesting the cessation of the construction due to violations of Decree 8633
http://nna-leb.gov.lb/ar/show-news/202358/

Adloun Port: Another environmental transgression by the Lebanese government
https://ecocentra.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/adloun-port-another-environmental-transgression-by-the-lebanese-government/

[6] A report by Al Akbar highlighting the corruption in the bidding process
http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/243723

On sea turtles in Adloun
http://greenarea.me/ar/73365/سلحفاة-نافقة-تذكرنا-بالارث-البيئي-وال/

[7] An article by GreaaArea on the historical significance Adloun beach
http://greenarea.me/ar/100456/أنقذوا-مآروبو-آد-نوم-عدلون/

[13] Article highlighting the similarities between the Adloun an Dalieh cases
http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/251696

[11] The new name of Adloun’s port, Nabih Berri Port, says it all
https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/reportsfeatures/566545-the-new-name-of-adlouns-port-the-nabih-berri-port-says-it-all

South Construction Company files a lawsuit against the Ministry of Public Works
http://assafir.com/Article/454758

Article by the Legal Agenda on the protest in front of the National Museum
http://legal-agenda.com/article.php?id=2790

The municipality of Adloun supports the Adloun port project
http://greenarea.me/ar/103944/بلدية-عدلون-تدافع-عن-مشروع-ميناء-اليخو/

Statement by the Civil Campaign to Protect the Dalieh of Raouche regarding the Adloun port project
http://greenarea.me/ar/106498/إن-أردت-أن-تعرف-ماذا-في-عدلون،-فعليك-أن/

[8] Deforestation in Ansar village for rock quarries
http://greenarea.me/ar/122051/صخور-أنصار-لردم-بحر-عدلون/

Green Southerners demand from the Ministry of Environment to classify Adloun coast as a protected area
http://greenarea.me/ar/95978/جمعية-الجنوبيون-الخضر-لإعلان-شاطئ-عدل/

Article about the historical significance of Adloun coast from the Green Southener's website
http://greensoutherns.org/index.php/ar-aa/2016-07-15-21-13-38/2016-07-22-19-28-34

[12] Adloun port project destroys ancient Phoenician town
http://al-akhbar.com/node/250426

Article about the history of Adloun and the significance of its archeological sites
http://www.khiyam.com/news/article.php?articleID=8478

[13] A public statement by the Green Southerners after the start of the construction works on Adloun coast
http://assafir.com/Article/8/469995

Media Links

Official Website of the Green Southerners
http://greensoutherns.org/index.php/ar-aa/

[3] A report by Al Jadeed TV, stating that Phoenician port site has not been properly excavated
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2zmbnAFZ68

Facebook page of the Green Southerners
https://www.facebook.com/greensoutherners/

Protest by environmental organisation in front of the national museum
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rUqbaMc3Oo

Other Documents

Construction happening on Adloun beach; Credit: Elie Fares
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/adloun-beach-Elie_Fares.jpg

Sea turtle at Adloun Beach; Credit: Green Southerners
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/4.jpg

https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/1.jpg

https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/2.jpg

Map of the project
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/1422470_1036805836380103_2974554917668076224_n.jpg

Letter of Environment Minister to Public Works Minister
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/L_MoE_to_MoWT-_Adloun_Port-_5989B-_22.01.2016.pdf

Detailed map of the project
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Detailed_map_of_project.JPG

Other CommentsThanks to Mohammad Ayoub from NAHNOO for providing maps and legal documents.

Meta Information

ContributorCatherine Moughalian, Asfari Institute, AUB
Last update23/03/2017

Images

 

Map of the project

 

Construction happening on Adloun beach; Credit: Elie Fares

 

Sea turtle at Adloun Beach; Credit: Green Southerners

 

 

 

Detailed map of the project