SIDON, Lebanon: Workers in Sidon are racing against time to finish the breakwater being built in front of the southern city’s notorious dump before the rainy season starts. The first foundations for the barrier were laid last October, and the project is a first and essential step aimed at reviving the city’s coastline.
Funded by a $20 million donation from Saudi Arabia, the project has also been supported by the local municipality and backed by Sidon MPs Fouad Siniora and Bahia Hariri.
The breakwater, which is being implemented by the Lebanese government’s Council for Development and Reconstruction, will provide an additional 550,000 square meters to the coast and will use a combination of concrete blocks and rocks.
The main aim of the project is to protect the area near the city’s notorious dump and to prevent waste from collapsing into the sea and polluting it, which happens often.
It will also create more space to be used in the future for further treatment plants, with the eventual aim of dismantling the dump completely and removing pollution, both of which have prevented the city from developing.
As planned, the breakwater will also use trash from the dump itself, and eventually reclaim more land between the barrier and the dump.
The project has run in conjunction with the construction of the Sinniq waste treatment plant, which is another necessary move to facilitate the eventual closing of the dump.
Bassem Kojok, who is running the project on behalf of the Khoury Contracting Company, said the plan was to finish construction of the breakwater before the winter season.
“We’re racing against time. Winter is coming and the area is known for its storms and strong winds.”
“We are working over 15 hours a day and we have dozens of workers and large machines on land and in the sea to lift up rocks,” he added.
Kojok was confident that the task would be completed on time, adding that “work is taking place according to schedule and so far there have been no administrative or financial obstacles.”
The maritime barrier, when completed, will be 2,125 meters long, and so far around 1,100 meters have been constructed, representing around 40 percent of the total, he added.
The breakwater is also being subjected to rigorous testing, Kojok added, saying that 3,000 out of a total of 9,500 cement blocks have already been tested by a technical team.
Tests aimed at determining how long the breakwater will survive have shown that it should last for around 100 years, Kojok added.