Member of the “Strong Republic” bloc, Representative Ziad Al-Hawat, inaugurated the first phase of the joint transport project for Byblos, in a ceremony held in the city’s public park, in the presence of former Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani, representing the head of the “Lebanese Forces” Party Samir Geagea, and MP Shawki Daccache. , Director General of Land and Maritime Transport, Ahmed Tamer, Acting Mayor of Jbeil, Natalie Marai El-Khoury, Mayor of Byblos, Wissam Zaarour, and a number of current and former mayors, President of the Judicial Mayors’ League, Michel Gibran, mayors, Hadi Merhej, coordinator of the “Lebanese Forces” in Byblos and events.
In a statement on the media office of Al-Hawat, he indicated that after the national anthem, the executive director of the project, Youssef Al-Qusifi, spoke about the number of transmission lines that will be included in the first phase and the technical details of how to use the buses, promising to expand and increase the lines in the coming weeks.
In his speech, Al-Hawat pointed out that “this project was delayed due to the Corona pandemic, and because of the aggravation of the economic crisis that is hitting Lebanon,” noting that “after the pandemic was contained, and the serious economic deterioration was not addressed, the need became more and more necessary for this project to see the light.”
He said: “We did not wait for the state that abandoned all its duties in all facilities. From 1993 to 2018, successive governments allocated 2,630 billion (two billion six hundred and thirty million dollars) to public transport plans without result. In 2004, the Council of Ministers decided to buy 250 buses for Greater Beirut, and of course, as usual, the project was not implemented, and in 2019 the government accepted a loan from the World Bank worth $295 million to finance the Express Bus Project, which later happened that the government of President Hassan Diab decided to withdraw 255 million dollars. From this loan to finance the financing card that has not seen the light until today, knowing that the priority of the current authority with lifting subsidies in particular, from fuel, should have been to secure the alternative for mobility, and to release public transport projects from all of Lebanon. The authority was also required to approve the financing card two years ago, and to this day we do not know who will benefit from it, due to the lack of a serious and scientific census of those who need the card.
Today, I can assure you that the financing card, if approved, will be nothing more than electoral bribery, sectarian and partisan quotas and favoritism.”
He added: “This situation we are living in today made us take the initiative, even at the minimum possible, in order to contribute to alleviating even a small part of the burdens of the economic and living crisis on the citizen. The public transport project of Byblos district is required of all people to contribute to its success, this project is not profitable, and the tariff is only to secure the project’s operational cost and its continuity. The public transport project and other problems that the Lebanese live with on a daily basis underscore the necessity of quickly approving the expanded decentralization.
We are not inventing anything new. Expanded decentralization is one of the provisions of the Taif Agreement and it has not been implemented until today, and we all know why it was not implemented. Because they want the citizens to be hostages to them, and every minister wants to remain at the head of his ministry and controls the people’s necks without accountability or oversight.
Decentralization has become an urgent need and necessity for every administrative region in Lebanon. Hence, and on this occasion, we renew the demand for the necessity of issuing executive and executive decrees for the governorate of Byblos-Keserwan to make it easier for people to deal with them, until the implementation of expanded decentralization. It has become necessary for every region to find solutions to its problems, starting with waste, electricity, water, sewage, road maintenance and tourism, to public transportation, public schools and other problems.”
He continued: “Until further notice, we can no longer rely on a country as long as it is pawned and kidnapped. We cannot rely on a state that was unable to secure the export of apples in the simplest terms, and the farmer became hostage to the greed of merchants and the state’s indifference. We cannot count on a country that could not protect a judge who was publicly threatened by a party official, a judge investigating a crime against humanity and human civilization, with more than 200 innocent people killed, 6000 wounded and a capital destroyed.
This is the crime that, from day one, we have called for an international fact-finding committee to find out who is behind this bombing. Unfortunately, the response was quick to us, and we were accused of having foreign political agendas. After 14 months of the crime, no one knows who brought the nitrates, who stored them, and who escaped quantities of them from Ward No. 12. We cannot rely on a country whose borders are loose, smuggling did not stop at the borders. By the way, the Iranian diesel that entered Lebanon without examining samples of it in the central laboratory, and of course it was entered without paying customs duties or TVA, and it is sold in the local market for less than 8% of the official price of diesel, and we all know that the price of Iranian diesel is 30% lower of its world price, due to sanctions and export bans.
They told us that the oil derivatives are a gift from the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that an Iranian official stated that the diesel was purchased by a group of Lebanese businessmen. Later, they told us that they had broken the siege imposed on Lebanon, the truth is that no one is besieging Lebanon, the fact is that there are no hard currencies left in the treasury to buy the oil derivatives that we support to escape to Syria.”
Al-Hawat added: “About two years ago, I submitted two reports to the Discriminatory and Financial Public Prosecution that included details of smuggling operations, who protects the smuggling lines, who facilitates and who benefits from them, and until today we have not received an answer.
The cost of subsidized materials, goods and oil derivatives that are smuggled to Syria is approximately four billion US dollars. It is located on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
We cannot rely on a state in which the decision of war and peace is not in its hands, a decision issued by Hezbollah, which kidnapped the state and stripped it from its Arab and natural surroundings, and led us to Arab and international isolation the likes of which we have not known throughout the history of Lebanon. We cannot rely on a state in which the citizen’s greatest ambition is to secure a living, obtain a gas can, without waiting hours at the stations, and find a doctor, or be able to enter a hospital for treatment, or find medicine in a pharmacy.”
He asked: “What is left of the state structure? If there is no hospital, school, university, pharmacy, security, bank, or judiciary left in Lebanon? What is left of the state? That is why we have the right to look today and every day on the best ways to solve our problems ourselves. We have the right to live our way. We have the right to live a culture of life, a culture of development and scientific and civilized progress, like most countries. We have the right to refuse to live in an axis that does not resemble us.”
We do not want the carpet card, the good loan, the health facilities, or the light card. We want expanded decentralization, we want to compete for the best to serve the Lebanese citizen, and to secure the best and finest means of decent living. That is why the public transport project was the first relief. We hope that this model project will be a milestone and incitement to all concerned so that it will be circulated on all Lebanese territories.”
He addressed the people of Jbeil by saying: “We will not wait for anyone, we will wait for the upcoming parliamentary elections, and we hope that the Lebanese citizen, while exercising his right to vote, will judge his conscience and remember and hold accountable all those who contributed to his humiliation and oppression. Elections in all countries of the world are an opportunity to renew the political elites and change the ruling class. You are called to hold the current class accountable at the polls, so do not miss the opportunity.”
Al-Hawat concluded: “Let us work together to make the upcoming elections a pivotal point in the history of Lebanon, ending the era of humiliation, oppression, quotas, clientelism and favoritism, to put together the first course in the process of building the Lebanon that we dream of.”