By Houda Mzioudet
Tunis, 5 January . . .[restrict]2013
The Tunisian-Libyan border crossing of Ras Jedir remains closed for Libyan and Tunisian merchants transporting goods on both sides until today, 4 of January 2013. This is despite assurances from security sources that the crossing will be open by 3 of January, stated a Radio Tataouine reporter.
Dozens of Libyan truck drivers have been staging a sit in for over 15 days in protest at the closure of the crossing asking Libyan authorities to find a solution to the problem caused by the new customs procedures imposed on transport of goods to and from Libya.
Meanwhile the Tunisian-Libyan Economic Chamber of the Tunisian Employers Organisation UTICA (French acronym for Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts) started yesterday a sea journey from the Tunis port of Radès to Libya transporting food and medical supplies with the continuing closure of both Ras Jedir and Dhehiba-Wazen border crossings.
The General Manager of the Tunisian-Libyan Economic Chamber Mr. Ali Dhaouadi stated to the Tunisian private radio station Kalima that this decision was prompted by calls from Tunisian exporters who demanded that goods are transported by sea to Libya. The sea journey were coordinated with the Tunisian Company for Navigation CTN.
In an interview with the Libya Herald, Mr. Dhaouadi confirmed that the sea journey to Libya took place yesterday, 3 January. Products transported included products imported from abroad by Libyan companies and transiting through Tunisia. There will be a second sea journey to Libya this Sunday, according to Mr. Dhaouadi.
“If the pressure on the border crossings continue, then we may resort to transporting goods to Libya through other Tunisian ports such as Sfax and Zarzis,” he insisted.
Regarding Turkish competition with Tunisia in Libya and fears that that this might jeopardise Tunisia-Libyan commercial exchange, Mr. Dhaouadi reminded that Turkey has been a serious competitor for Tunisia in Libya for a while, adding that the Libyan market is currently “thirsty” for foreign goods to get in.
“Nature does not like vaccuum. In this case case, someone else will indeed try and fill it up, whether from Turkey or some other side… Turkey is closest to taking away Tunisian market from us,” he concluded.
Libyan truck drivers have given a deadline to the Libyan authorities until 4 pm today, or else they will close the main road leading to Ras Jedir. Among the trucks drivers, a big number of them from the Libyan town of Zelten, threaten to close Ras Jedir border crossing to passenger cars to and from Libya except for emergency cases, according to Radio Tataouine reporter. [/restrict]