Post-2006 War Reconstruction Continues to Face Problems
By: Rajana Hamyeh
Published Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The massive five-year reconstruction project to rebuild the southern suburbs of Beirut destroyed during the 2006 Israeli war is facing legal obstacles as it nears completion.
Hassan Jeshi, the Director General of the Hezbollah-led Waad Project for rebuilding the southern suburbs of Beirut after the 2006 war, says that the massive reconstruction effort will be completed by early next year.
Jeshi estimates that only 17 buildings out of nearly 200 damaged in the war five years ago have not been completed, while the basic infrastructure should be completed more or less on time. But the process has not been snag-free.
From the beginning the project faced many legal obstacles as most of the southern suburbs were built during the chaotic days of Lebanon’s civil war with no governmental oversight.
As the project nears completion, the supervisors of the project and the relevant authorities are scrambling to devise a legal framework to resolve outstanding issues.
A parliamentary committee met three weeks ago and discussed ways of organizing the reconstruction process, forming a panel charged with preparing a draft law.
Though this draft should have been prepared and issued when the war ended, the fact that there is no reconstruction law in Lebanon meant that the relevant legislation had to be prepared and issued first.
At the time a bill that allowed reconstruction was deemed satisfactory, though it did not contain any guidelines for reconstruction.
The parliamentary committee members agreed that the buildings should be reconstructed. Their proposal covers guidelines for legalizing and licensing reconstruction of what has not yet been rebuilt.
However, the case of those buildings that are illegal under Law 324 issued in 1994 is very problematic, not least because the executive decrees of this law have not been issued.
Buildings that are or were constructed on another person’s private property or on public property constitute a social problem seemingly without solution.
According to Badr Wannous, the Vice President of the committee, the state can at least ease up on granting permits to the legitimate buildings.
However he stresses that the legal fees, amounting to 0.5 percent, must be paid and the problem of the illegal buildings must be resolved.
According to Article 3 of Decree 631, any demolished building that was built on another person’s property without that person’s written consent cannot be rebuilt without the express permission of that person.
If the person whose property has been violated does not grant permission, the owner of the illegal building could receive monetary compensation instead.
As for the demolished buildings that were built on public property, their status is illegal until legal solutions are found. Rebuilding structures that were originally on state property is subject to the government’s approval.
Finally, those buildings that were set up in places where construction is prohibited for any reason, such as those that may interfere with air traffic, cannot be rebuilt. In this case, the owner would receive monetary compensation only.
Jeshi confirms that all the buildings reconstructed by Waad are completely legal. He also adds that the negotiations should aim to help rebuild what was destroyed, not to take the war as an opportunity to punish those who have lost their homes.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.