By Libya Herald reporter.
Benghazi, 15 November 2016:
In a bid to deal with the problems of the desalination plant in Tobruk once and for all, the Beida-based interim prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni summoned all the top water resources officials in the east of the country to an emergency meeting today.
Tobruk has been facing water shortages for years, in part because a rise in consumption but also because of declining production at the desalination plant, the result of inadequate maintenance over more than 13 years. Cracked pipes and boilers have resulted in a drop in output. Distribution pipes in the town also need replacing.
Faced with this, the local authorities have been looking at various alternatives over the past year and more – from digging new wells to the construction of a new plant with a capacity of 150,000 cubic metres of water a day.
The money, though, has not been there. In January last year, the Thinni government approved spending of LD6.5 million for urgent maintenance on the Tobruk plant and two others, in Sousa and Butraba, but in the event, only LD 1.3 million was handed over.
It has resulted in a growing flow of complaints from the local council and other officials, and appeals to business, to the House of Representatives, even to the Gulf states and a US company to help find a solution. Nothing, however, has happened.
The problems at the plant have been compounded by delays in salaries to staff, causing further demotivation.
The past couple of weeks has seen a growing local campaign involving the municipal council and some members of the House of Representatives to force action on the desalination plant. It culminated in demonstrations outside the HoR yesterday, Monday. Water company officials were also among those who accused the government of reneging on past promises to fix the problem.
The Thinni government was, though, already aware that action had to be taken. On Sunday, Thinni ordered his advisory committee to come up with proposals on the desalination plant and the related issued of staff salary arrears.
Today’s meeting follows from that, although there has been no statement so far on what was decided.