By Seraj Essul and Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 8 December 2013:
The Tebu blockade of fuel trucks heading near the Sarir power station has . . .[restrict]itself been blockaded by Zway tribesmen 300 kilometres to the north near Ajdabiya, who are now stopping all fuel heading for the power station.
The Tebu began blocking fuel deliveries to Sarir twelve days ago, in an attempt to force the government to act on their demands for separate local councils in the Tebu part of Kufra and at Rebyana, which is currently administered by the wholly-Zway council in Kufra. The Tebu also want Rebyana to be linked to the national grid, the nearest connection point of which is some 90 kilometres away.
The Tebu initially stopped all commercial traffic heading south toward Kufra but allowed cars and ambulances through. According to a Tebu spokesman, Mohammed Al-Tobawey, while the blockade has stayed in place, they have been allowing fuel trucks through to the power station but not through to Kufra.
This has led to widespread shortages in the town, journalist Suleiman Zway told the Libya Herald. Power-cuts were almost constant, he said. Food shops were running out of supplies, the hospital was low on medicines and the little fuel available was selling for up to LD 4 a litre. Angry school bus drivers today demonstrated inside the council offices. Since they cannot do their runs, it is likely that schools will shortly be shutting down for lack of pupils.
Zway said that a strike in the town had been called for tomorrow to protest the crisis. There was talk in Kufra that if the power outages continued, the local pumps above the wells of the Man-Made River to the south of the town and to the north-west near Tazerbu, would cease to operate, causing water shortages in and around Benghazi.
The Libya Herald was unable to confirm reports that the Sarir power station had now shut down completely, apparently for lack of fuel. This would have been caused by the Zway blockade near Ajdabiya which began four days ago. One of the blockaders, Abdulmenem Al-Zway told this newspaper that on the first day they had turned back 35 fuel trucks heading for the power station. Since then no further deliveries had been attempted. However all other commercial traffic was being allowed south, but said Al-Zway was not being let through the Tebu blockade.
Mahmoud Yahyah, a retired head of the Brega tank farm, who has been observing the Zway blockade, said that government representatives, who he said had visited before, had had further meetings with the Zway blockaders today. He believed that the government had said they needed three days to resolve the issue.
Yahyah also said that elders from Jalu and Awjila had travelled down to the Tebu road block to talk with the activists there. Part of their argument, he said, had been that the protestors should be taking up their demands with the government and not imposing hardship on ordinary people.