Parliament’s joint committee Wednesday approved a law authorizing Cabinet to build a tunnel connecting Beirut to Bekaa, and another allowing Zahle and other districts to conduct their own urban planning.
The first law would allow the government to build a tunnel connecting the capital to Bekaa using a BOT (build-operate-transfer) system, Deputy Speaker Elie Ferzli said following a session that brought together the Finance and Budget; Administration and Justice; National Defense, Interior and Municipalities; and Public Works, Transportation, Energy and Water committees, along with representatives from the Public Works and Transport, Interior and Finance ministries.
Ferzli said the project would connect the Port of Beirut to the Arab world, making Lebanon “a hub for maritime trade in the Middle East,” according to the state-run National News Agency. He expressed hope that the project would be green-lit by Cabinet and lawmakers in Parliament’s general assembly.
The second law the committee approved calls for a number of districts to establish offices for carrying out their own urban planning operations. The law granted this right to the districts of Zahle, Sidon, Nabatieh, Baabda, Halba, and Baalbeck. The Beirut and Tripoli municipalities already have such offices.
“All these main cities and governorate centers in Lebanon were given the authority to own technical equipment and funds to have their own urban planning system,” Ferzli said, adding that this would save cities in those districts from having to go to Beirut for their operations.
The director of roads and buildings at the Public Works Ministry, Tanious Boulos, who attended the meeting, told The Daily Star that once the law was passed by the general assembly, it would allow the capitals of the districts to have their own urban planning office to would replace the regional office.
“This falls under the administrative decentralization” of municipalities, Boulos said.
The committee also discussed establishing development councils for Baalbeck-Hermel, Akkar and north Lebanon. However, since the lawmakers could not reach a decision Wednesday, they are set to meet again on Aug. 21 to continue discussing the law, among other legislation on the committee’s agenda.
The Daily Star