By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 2 January:
A fire at a junction box for fiber optic cables in the Souq Al-Thlat district of Tripoli caused major disruptions to telecommunications inside and outside Libya yesterday.
The fire, which was believed to have been started deliberately, was in an underground junction box carrying cables for national, international telephone calls and internet services.
Speaking live on Libya Al-Ahrar TV station last night from the scene of the fire, Telecommunications and Informatics Minister Osama Siala said that the fire occurred at about 3 pm yesterday.
He said that the telecoms companies were on the scene within an hour of the blaze and that action to divert the flow of telecoms via alternative routes had already been taken to maintain services
The fire caused telecoms links between east and west Tripoli to be cut off for several hours, and also severely disrupted international calls. Moreover, it disrupted internet services all over the country with some areas experiencing very slow service and others losing network coverage completely.
The poor internet service had affected Libya Herald’s various journalists yesterday all over Tripoli and in Benghazi too. Indeed, Libya Herald’s Maha Ellawati had reported that both the al-Madar and Libyana mobile networks were down for sometime yesterday in Benghazi.
Asked by Libya Al-Ahrar if the fire was an act of vandalism, Minister Siala said investigations were ongoing. Moreover, when it was pointed out by the interviewer to the Minister how easy it was for a potential vandal to disrupt the national telecoms network, Siala confirmed that his ministry was in talks with the security forces regarding better protection of sensitive sites.
He also confirmed that his ministry was discussing ways in which telecoms companies could boost their own security around sensitive sites across the country.