Bidders for the contract are expected to be drawn from a list of 14 contractors prequalified in early 2003 for the ministry’s dam programme (see table). Further packages, for the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, pumping stations, conveying lines and irrigation networks, are expected following the completion of designs, due in September.

Project sources say work will begin in the next few weeks on the enabling package. The $30 million contract was awarded in April to a joint venture of China’s CWE and a local contractor identified as Hattab. The first package involves the construction of a five-metre-high concrete diversion dam, three pumping stations, two water tanks and conveying and pumping lines. The diversion dam consists of a gated spillway section across the river and two intake structures, one on each bank of the river. Work has been delayed by irregularities in the paperwork of the Chinese firm, say the sources.

The project consultant is the local Dar al-Handasah (Nazih Taleb & Partners)with Montgomery Watson Harzaof the US. The project is being funded by Beirut, which plans a 10-year, $1,500 million programme to tackle management of water resources (MEED 23:4:04).