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Libyan Rail Authority meets Chinese regarding restarting projects

2013-06-22 – www.sherwestravel.com

By Sami Zaptia

The Libya Rail Implementation Authority and the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) met last Wednesday to discuss ways in which to reactivate the implementation of the rail project, LANA reports.

The Chinese company has contracts to implement numerous parts of the rail project from: Tripoli to the Tunisian border of Ras Jdair, Tripoli – Khoms – Sirte and Al-Hisha-Sebha.

No details have been released regarding any outcomes, if any, that resulted from the meeting. However, it was revealed that an attempt is being made to reach a framework agreement that would enable the reactivation of the implementation of the rail projects.

Sources at the Rail Implementation Authority told LANA that the meeting was as a result of the decision by the Libyan government to continue with the implementation of the rail projects.

That decision was revealed last February 26th by Transport Minister Abdel-Qader Ahmed at a press conference. He had revealed that he had already had talks with the Russians regarding the restarting of their contracts.

Libya’s US$12 billion railway scheme was split between Russian Railways (RZhD), tasked with building the line between Sirte and Benghazi, and the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC).

The Chinese were awarded a contract in 2008 to build the line from Sirte to Khoms and then on to the Tunisian border at Ras Jedir. The Chinese also won the contract to build the 800-kilometre line between Misrata and Wadi Shatti near Sebha.

The railways project, which was thought to have been mothballed after the revolution, is now also being actively supported by Congress. In February, GNC spokesman, Omar Hemidan, said that it had tasked its Communications and Transportation Committee to choose a president and vice-president for the railways implementation project.

Despite wanting to revive it, the transport minister warned the Russians and Chinese in February not to increase their original contract prices by claiming for compensation for the two-year delay, during which costs of construction materials significantly increased.

He said that Libya would pay the companies 50 percent of what they were owed if they restarted work again under the original terms, with the rest of the fees being paid in two further 25-percent tranches.

The same offer has been made to Chinese, Turkish and other companies involved in building housing and other projects, providing they drop compensation claims. However, most have refused.

According to the minister, there is a Plan B if the Russians and Chinese refuse the railway offer. There is an alternative project with the Italians still on the table, he said, using Italian funds agreed as part of the 2006 US$5 billion compensation deal for the Italian colonialisation of Libya agreed between Qaddafi and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

 
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