By Sami Zaptia.
London, 12 October 2020:
Libya’s Tripoli Audit Bureau demanded that the beleaguered state General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL) respond ‘‘with the necessary speed and clarity’’ to its official correspondence regarding a number of questions regarding the failure to complete electricity contracts involving the U.S’s GE, Germany’s Siemens, and Turkey’s Calik, ENKA and GESCO companies.
The demand came in a letter dated 11 October and published today.
The Audit Bureau, in its legally authorised oversight role, said it especially demands responses to the following main six points:
1- The reasons for the company’s board of directors retaining the Bureau’s approval regarding granting permission to contract with the (GE) company to implement the CALIC company, to establish a power station east of Tripoli, from the date of 01-29-2019 to this date, without signing the contract or requesting the cancellation of the approval, noting that the Bureau He confirms that this behaviour represents a suspicion of blackmail for which everyone is responsible, including the current general manager of the company, especially since this contract, if executed in its history, would have had a role in alleviating the severity of the crisis in Libya in general and Tripoli in particular.
2- The reasons for the disappearance of the mobile power units offer that was presented to the Audit Bureau in 2019, which were intended to produce 624 megawatts, and the failure to respond to the Audit Bureau’s letter (No. 2295-19) regarding the requesting a meeting regarding the matter. The Audit Bureau said that this especially pertinent, despite some of its technical reservations regarding them, since in its view the addition of these mobile units to the national network would have contributed to alleviating the severity of the electricity crisis, especially in areas that lack power stations, and have borne a great burden of the electricity crisis, due to the imposition of additional loads on them from other regions.
3- The actions taken against GESCO company, due to its non-compliance with the terms of the contract for the construction of the Ubari power station, and to inform the Bureau of the measures that have been taken, in accordance with the recommendations of the aforementioned letter.
4- Measures taken with Siemens and ENCA, regarding the need to start implementing Western Tripoli and Misrata power station projects, within a maximum deadline of twenty days ending on 27 September 2020.
5- The measures taken regarding offering the maintenance and overhaul contract of Ruwais units in a public or a limited tender, without accepting any procrastination or stalling in this regard.
6- The reasons for the delay in completing the negotiation procedures with the Libyan Iron and Steel Company (LISCO) regarding the maintenance and operation of LISCO’s power station, which aimed at adding about 300 megawatts to the public network of this station.
It will be recalled that the Audit Bureau had set GECOL a deadline in September to get the above mentioned contracts implemented or it would re-award them to other companies.
The stern public move by the Audit Bureau comes as part of a wider anti-corruption drive launched by the internationally recognized Libyan government in Tripoli led by Faiez Serraj. The drive comes after the widespread perception that there is huge corruption in Libyan state bureaucracies which has increased the loss of local legitimacy for the government.
This view is particularly perceived with regards to GECOL which despite receiving budgets in the billions and being regularly criticised in annual Audit Bureau reports, has failed to improve the electricity supply problem.
The perception of widespread corruption contributed to the nationwide demonstrations that threatened to bring down both western and eastern-based Libyan governments and unravel the whole 2015 Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement, the current UN approved Libyan political roadmap.