By Ashraf Abdul Wahab and Michel Cousins
Tripoli, 12 December:
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has given the green light to build of a new road to the Libyan border some 250 kilometres south of the current coastal border crossing at Musaid. The aim is to improve trade and manpower links between Upper Egypt and Libya.
At least a third of the Egyptian workers who were in Libya prior to last year’s revolution were from Upper Egypt.
The project will involve building a 50-kilomtre stretch of new road from the Siwa oasis to the border and towards the Libyan town of Jaghbub. From there an existing road heads 285 kilomtres north to Tobruk.
According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Wafd, a request to approve the new road was submitted by the governor of Minya governorate, Mustafa Issa. He is quoted as saying that investors will be invited to participate in the project, which will be built in three stages.
He said that “agreement has already been reached with [Egyptian] Ministry of Transport to implement this road and that implementation procedures have already started”.
The proposed road will end at the Libyan border. No plans as yet have been announced for a new road from there to Jaghbub. However, there is new Libyan government commitment to the town, once headquarters of the Senussi order, birthplace of the late King Idris and home to the Senussi Islamic university closed by Qaddafi. At its second cabinet meeting at the end of last month, the new government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan agreed to give LD 5 million to revive the university by creating a new Islamic education centre in the town to be named after Sayyid Mohamed Ben Ali Senussi, grandfather of King Idris and founder of the Senussi movement. He set up the original university.
The road project has the support of Siwa’s member of parliament, Bilal Gibril, from President Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party. He originally petitioned the Egyptian parliament to back it on the grounds that it would provide an economic boost to the area.
A border crossing was symbolically inaugurated in the desert linking Egypt and Libya in May. It was attended by officials from Siwa and Jaghbub as well as from the then NTC.