Lebanon's port explosion brings out ills of the State
Beirut, Sep 16 (Prensa Latina) The explosion at the port of Beirut brought to the fore all the evils of the microcosm of governance in Lebanon: corruption, bribery and tax evasion, according to reports cited today in local media.
Such scourges are just some of the common violations in all public institutions dominated by major political groups or sects.
'The port is one of the most corrupt (state) institutions, both within the administration and the customs service,' said Mohammad Chamseddine of the Beirut-based research and consulting firm Information International.
After the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990, the port's operations management passed to a temporary public commission that never left the headquarters.
To this day, it runs the seaport as if it were a private business, Chamseddine said, quoted by The Daily Star newspaper.
As a common practice in this country, there was a division between Christians and Muslims for the seven posts of that commission.
Ties to the political elite facilitated an administration similar to the way the state does through patronage, bribery and corruption.
'There is no government supervision of income or expenses,' said the researcher from the non-government organization.
There are benefits for everyone, because the same system of distributing the loot is applied as is done in the Government, he pointed out.
The administration of the port terminal has come under greater scrutiny after the explosion on August 4 that left 192 people dead, some 6,500 injured and destroyed the houses of 300,000 persons.
The outrage of the Lebanese is notorious inside and outside the country when they detected that the authorities had known for years about the poor storage of 2,725 tons of ammonium nitrate, an explosive substance that caused the tragedy.
Just over a month after the deadly incident, it is still unclear what started the fire and how the ignition occurred, although an ongoing investigation has put 25 executives involved with port management behind bars.
Even so, popular perception estimates that the true culprits of the disaster, the full government supported by corruption, bribery and political patronage, will never be brought to justice.
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