Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri headed today at the Center House a meeting focused on the damages caused by the storm that hit Lebanon.
The meeting was attended by the Ministers of Interior, Nouhad Machnouk, Agriculture, Ghazi Zeaiter, Finance, Ali Hassan Khalil and Public Works, Youssef Fenianos, the President of the Council for Development and Reconstruction Nabil Jisr and the mayors of Beirut, Ziad Shbib, Akkar ,Imad Labaki, Mount Lebanon, Mohammed Makkawi, Baalbek, Bashir Khodr, Bekaa, Kamal Abu Joude, Nabatieh, Mahmoud Mawla, North, Ramzi Nohra, and South, Mansour Daou, the Secretary General of the Higher Relief Council Major General Mohammed Kheir, Hariri's advisor Fadi Fawaz and the Head of the disaster risk management unit at the Presidency of the council of ministers Zahi Chahine.
After the meeting, Minister Machnouk said: "The meeting focused on the weaknesses that emerged during the storm that hit Lebanon last week. The participants congratulated the Internal security forces, the Civil defense volunteers, the Lebanese army and the Ministry of Public Works employees, for the tremendous efforts they exerted to reduce the possibility of serious harm to the citizens during their movements in the areas that witnessed heavy snowfall.
It appeared that several measures must be taken in preparation for the next storm, which all weather forecasts are talking about and which will start on Sunday night.
First: Clean up four storm drains basins located within Greater Beirut, which will help facilitate the flow of water. We asked Fadi Fawaz to coordinate with the Ministry of Energy because it is its responsibility.
Second: There are three roads that need temporary and quick solutions. Dbayeh road, which was flooded, Jezzine, which showed serious cracks, and Chekka, where a wall was subjected to some cracks. The Ministry of Public Works was mandated to carry out emergency measures in cooperation with the Higher Relief Council on these three roads to prevent the recurrence of what happened.
Third: To prevent what happened on the two main roads subjected to heavy snowfall, Faraya and Dahr al-Baidar, it must be clear to all citizens from now on that the security forces will not allow any car to pass from Sunday night until the end of the storm, if not equipped with metal chains. Everyone must take this matter seriously, thank God nothing serious happened to the citizens throughout the last storm.
Fourth: The disaster risk management unit at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers will coordinate with all provinces.
Fifth: The Ministry of Public Works will try to take action in Ghadir, because there is a problem due to the violations at the border of the river, which caused serious damages.
Sixth: Measures will be taken concerning the South road, where technical problems occurred. These measures will be quick due to the landslides, and will be temporary.
All of these measures will be followed by with Prime Minister Hariri, but the most important thing for the citizens is to cooperate".
Question: Citizens have been affected, who is responsible?
Machnouk: Practically there are several types of responsibilities, there are agricultural responsibilities, there are responsibilities related to attacks on public property, the third matter concerns the responsibility of the state in the areas that have been identified. This happens in any country in the world as a result of a snowstorm.
Question: Why do you always resort to "patchwork" measures?
Machnouk: This expression is not accurate because we said that we will take temporary measures now, because we cannot work during the storm. In practice, weaknesses have been identified. There are projects at the CDR that include many of these points that we discussed today. They will be sent today, not tomorrow, to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers so that after the storm they will be approved.
We have seen on television what happened in many places around the world that experienced storms. Alsa, a problem emerged in the Bekaa where there are 38 random camps of Syrian refugees. In fact, we do not have the means to take any action, but we will ask the relevant UN bodies about measures to alleviate the damage.
Question: Is it true that no compensations will be paid?
Machnouk: The areas that need compensation have not yet been identified. This is a long procedural matter that requires conducting a survey, studying the conditions of the regions, and checking the impact of the storm. Now, the priority is to solve the weaknesses that have emerged, to relieve citizens during the coming storm and prevent further damage.
Question: Do you have a shortage of equipment?
Machnouk: There is no shortage of equipment. There is a lack of modernization. The equipment that we have is old. I salute the snow workers, roads workers, civil defense volunteers, internal security forces and the army because they are exerting a great humanitarian effort, despite the harshness of natural conditions. We cannot say that our equipment is among the newest in the world, because getting them requires a much larger budget than what we have today.
Question: Do you still say that the government is not being formed due to a link with in the presidential file? Minister Gebran Bassil described what you said earlier as shameful?
Machnouk: The real shame is to describe the words as shameful. This is a political point of view that you may or may not agree with, and it is not an accusation against someone.
I still believe that there is a fist match about the presidency, and this should not be considered as an insult to anyone. It is normal in a country like Lebanon. This is one of the things delaying the government. We did not discuss this issue during our meeting today, but I am talking from a personal point of view so as not to be misunderstood.
Question: Will the measures include removing the violations you talked about?
Machnouk: The Council for Development and Reconstruction has a specific project related to this matter. It will send it to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers today. It includes the removal of specific violations, they are not many, because it is necessary to bear in mind that these citizens have lived in these houses for decades.
Source: National News Agency