By Tazeez Hasairi and Callum Paton
Tripoli, 15 December 2013:
GECOL power engineers are striking tomorrow after six of their colleagues were kidnapped . . .[restrict]in Tripoli by gunmen yesterday and beaten before being released. The abduction seems to have been in retribution for continued power cuts across the capital.
GECOL spokesman Lutfi Ghuma told the Libya Herald that engineers have organised a strike tomorrow demanding better security. The strike will include a protest in front of the operations room where the engineers were kidnapped, “in solidarity with colleagues”, he added.
The engineers from the GECOL central operations room near the Airport Road were kidnapped in the morning and taken to an unknown location. They were held for five hours before being released. Their assailants told them their kidnapping was in revenge for power cuts in their local area, the name of which GECOL has not disclosed.
Ghuma condemned the attack on the workers. He said that rather than stopping power cuts, the kidnapping had actually caused blackouts across the country in the engineers’ absence.
Ghuma said that GECOL will take all the necessary steps to maintain the network and explained that in spite of the recent security problems the grid was secure and stable. Special Forces have now been deployed around the operations room.
GECOL has said tht blackouts are to continue in Tripoli until the end of the month. The hope had been that, after Tebu and Amazigh blockades on oil and gas facilities were lifted, the power cuts, for up to 12 hours in some areas of Tripoli, would end. GECOL has said, however, that undue stress placed on the grid by the blockades has meant rolling blackouts will continue while maintenance is done. [/restrict]