By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 4 March 2016:
The prime minister of the Tripoli administration, Khalifa Ghwell, presided at a ceremony yesterday at . . .[restrict]the severely damaged Tripoli International Airport to initiate reconstruction works there. Almost immediately, it result in a barrage of criticism on social media claiming that before paying for the project, the authorities should pay long delayed public salaries.
The airport was wrecked and aircraft destroyed in July and August Misratan fighters led by Salah Badi bombarded it and finally wrested it from Zintani forces. Since then Mitiga has been Tripoli’s only functioning airport.
The Tripoli authorities have declined to give any details about the project, including costs, scope of works or timescale. However, there are unconfirmed reports that Turkish construction company Dorçe has been awarded the contract for the new works which will include a hotel as well as a new terminal building.
In his speech, Ghwell indicated that the project was one of a number to be funded through public-private partnerships involving the Libyan private sector.
Accompanied at the ceremony by his deputy PMs, Abdulmonem Al-Dali and Ahmed Al-Hafr, he also said that Libyans wanted to see the airport operating again and that his administration was working to create the right environment for foreign companies to invest in the country.
He further claimed that the airport’s reopening would ease problems of travelling to neighbouring – although much of the current problem is not because it is closed but because regional states, notably Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, as well as the European Union have placed severe restrictions on flight to and from Libya.
The contract for the airport’s reconstruction was originally awarded to an international consortium that included Brazil’s Odebrecht, Aeroport de Paris and Turkey’s TAV. It had already carried out a significant amount of the civil engineering works before the revolution and were then assured that the contract would be reconfirmed pending a re-evaluation of it. They are likely to go to court to contest being replaced.
Almost as soon as the announcement about the ceremony was made, there was a barrage criticism on social media at the Ghwell government’s priorities saying that it should pay public salaries first before embarking on projects that were not immediately necessary.
Many state employees have not been paid since December.
Since the 2014 attack, the debris at the airport has been largely cleared away and the site, together with much of the Airport Road from the Ministry of Interior complex onwards, is now controlled by Misrata’s Al-Marsa brigade. [/restrict]