Damietta harbor losing LE35 million daily since closure, says govt

Damietta harbor is losing LE35 million per day since protests forced it to close Friday, Transportation Minister Ali Zine al-Abidine said Wednesday.

Abidine told reporters following a cabinet meeting Wednesday that 18 public and private companies and more than 10,000 workers operate out of the harbor. During the press conference, he and the environment minister also said the closure will result in indirect losses as local shipping insurance increases due to the unrest and companies take their business elsewhere.

Damietta residents have been protesting expansions to the MOPCO-Agrium fertilizer plant, which they say the government promised to relocate in 2008. They have blocked roads and entered the harbor area and the city of Ras al-Barr to call attention to their belief that the plant is releasing pollutants into the local Nile water. They also cut electricity at Damietta's main power station.

Trade and Industry Minister Mahmoud Eissa said the protests are harming investments.

Environment Minister Maged George said a scientific committee examined the environmental impact of plants in Damietta, including the MOPCO-Agrium plant, and submitted its recommendations to the cabinet. All companies in Damietta were given a grace period of nine months to implement industrial waste water cleaning stations to prevent the waste from being released into the Nile.

Major General Ibrahim Feleifal, head of the harbor authority, said the situation has become unbearable.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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