Years of Criminal Incompetence and Bureaucracy Led to Beirut Disaster

The Beirut explosion was the result of over six years of criminal incompetence and bureaucracy in Lebanon.

2750 tons of ammonium nitrate in the form of small pellets was intended as agricultural fertilizer for Mozambique. It was sent on a financially troubled Russian owned ship. The ship owners did not pay the crew and the material ended up getting impounded.

The ship was called the Rhosus. In 2013, it was leaking but seaworthy at the time. It was sent to Beirut by its owner to take on an additional cargo of heavy equipment because of financial difficulties.

The ship and cargo were abandoned by her owners. The African buyers lost interest in the cargo.

In 2014 the port authorities transferred the ammonium nitrate into a Warehouse next to the grain silos. The lawyers said the cargo was “awaiting auctioning and/or proper disposal”.

The port’s general manager, Hassan Koraytem, and the director-general of Lebanese Customs, Badri Daher, both said they and other officials repeatedly warned the judiciary about the danger posed by the stored ammonium nitrate and the need to remove it.

The explosion killed at least 137 people and injured about 5,000 others, while dozens are still missing. The crater is about 200 meters across.

Incompetence and Bureaucracy are Very Deadly and Dangerous

There was never much chance that this was done on purpose. There was so much material that it would only have been an attack if the thousands of tons of material was in a ship that sailed unchallenged into the port. The only scheme that could make sense is if someone found out about the incompetent storage and then helped detonate the material by starting the other fire.

The other reason that it was not done on purpose is that there no political or monetary gain for anyone to cause more trouble for Lebanon. They are poor and trying to recover from civil war and many other problems.

Being stupid is more dangerous than corruption. Corruption tends to mean that you could be competent but choose to steal some extra amount. Stupidity means that you might have no idea what the correct actions or choices are. Bureaucracy means you are applying rules and do not care whether those rules should be applied to any particular situation. The downsides on stupidity are unlimited because no one realizes how bad it could get. In corruption,

Written By Brian Wang,