By Sami Zaptia.
London, 18 December 2020:
Construction of Libya’s coastal motorway stretching from the Tunisian to the Egyptian border will start in spring 2021, Libya’s Tripoli-based Foreign Ministry announced yesterday. The motorway will be financed by the Italian government and built by Italian companies.
Italy will pay for the project as per the 2008 agreement signed between Qaddafi and Berlusconi as part of Italy’s colonial era compensation.
It must be noted, however, that since 2011, there have been several similar announcements without the project actually starting – mostly due to the lack of security in Libya.
The announcement came after the Libyan-Italian Joint Technical Committee for Economic Cooperation held its first virtual meeting yesterday.
The Tripoli Foreign Ministry attached great importance to the project to facilitate traffic and commercial traffic between the west and the east of the country.
The committee also discussed during the meeting efforts to solve the problem of various debts owed to Italian companies by the Libyan state and the possibility of resuming flights between the two countries in order to enhance the bilateral relations between the two sides.
The two sides held in-depth and extensive discussions in various aspects of cooperation and ways to develop and expand them, with the participation of officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, economy, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, agriculture, environment, education, justice, energy and the digital sphere in both countries.
They also expressed the need to continue holding bilateral meetings to achieve the best results, the Foreign Ministry reported.
The $ 5 billion 2008 Italy-Libya friendship pact
The motorway project is divided into four parts. The €963-million contract 400-kilometre section from Musaid to Marj was awarded in 2013 to a consortium led by the Salini Impregilo Group. Designs for the Misrata – Ras Jedir sector had been reported to be complete and a tender for the construction works was being prepared. Italy had insisted that proper security plans had to be in place before any Italian companies could undertake working again in Libya.
Under 2008 Italy-Libya friendship pact which decided that Italy would invest $5 billion in Libyan infrastructure in compensation for the colonial period, the lead construction contracts go only to Italian companies.