Public Transportation: The State Borrows Money without Implementing

Issued in the Official Gazette on 9/7/2019.

Law number 135 related to “consent to finalize a loan and executive agreement between the Lebanese Republic and the World Bank.”

In 2019, law 135 was issued approving a loan agreement between Lebanon and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with a target of executing a general program for public transportation funded by the World Bank. This program is supposed to secure affordable transportation means, for the sake of sustaining the development needs of public transportation in Lebanon. Additionally, it should support the economy and create new job opportunities. The Council for Development and Reconstruction, CDR, was responsible for the execution of all the program’s components.

However, today and according to a report issued by the World Bank about the progress of the project, it is likely that this project will not be implemented, especially since the deadline for the use of the loan is set to December 31, 2023, and till the date of the writing of the piece, no works have been carried out. It is to be noted that the previous government froze the loan and tried to re-allocate the money for clientelistic services, such as cash support cards for the lower income. If we further investigate the status of the collective and public transportation in Lebanon, it becomes evident that the successive procedures and practices adopted in the aftermath of the civil war, and even starting from the independence period, were in favor of weakening public transportation to promote the building of highways and roads and the import of cars. In other words, the policies followed by the Lebanese state were always centered around evading the responsibility of supplying safe, inclusive and adequate public transportation that is sufficient in terms of coverage and connections. This took place for the benefit of encouraging the ownership of private cars, which had a direct impact on the environment, traffic congestion and the accessibility of vulnerable communities to just and sustainable transport. These policies have also resulted in the exclusion of a number of neighborhoods, cities and regions, transforming them into ghettos whose residents were rendered unable to afford the cost of transport to other regions.

Infrastructure Lebanon