- Title: Benghazi port bustling again despite Libya's divisions
- Date: 2nd September 2019
- Summary: BENGHAZI, LIBYA (AUGUST 28, 2019) (REUTERS) SEAPORT LIFT CARRYING CARGO TRUCK CARRYING CARGO TRUCKS DRIVING BY SEAPORT VARIOUS OF MEN WORKING AT PORT MAN WORKING ON SHIP TRUCKS DRIVING BY PORT VARIOUS OF SHIPS CARRYING CARGO AT PORT VARIOUS OF TRUCKS AT PORT
- Embargoed: 16th September 2019 12:29
- Keywords: Libya Port Benghazi War in Libya
- Location: BENGHAZI, LIBYA
- City: BENGHAZI, LIBYA
- Country: Libya
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA005AUYTVTH
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The commercial port in Libya's second city Benghazi is working round the clock three years after reopening, attempting to raise revenues for its restoration and expansion.
The port was close to the fighting as rival factions battled for control of Benghazi from 2014 in a conflict that left parts of the city in ruins. It suspended operations as the main gate and some buildings were destroyed and the roads strewn with shells.
Forces led by Khalifa Haftar eventually declared victory in 2017. Repairs and reconstruction is limited -- two out of three damaged tug boats are still out of service.
But the port is now doing brisk business and trucks loaded with cars and containers carrying foodstuffs, motor oils and other goods can be seen streaming out of the main gate near the city centre.
Port manager Yzaid Bozraida said monthly revenues stood at more than seven million Libyan dinars ($4.9 million) before the war, though the income had not been used to develop the port.
"We have not reached the previous rate yet," Bozraida said. "But every month is better than the previous one, we are seeking to raise to more than 7.8 million dinars" monthly. "We have extended working times to 24 hours" he added.
Bozraida said that before the war revenues were deposited with the General Administration of Ports in Misrata city, but that the management of Benghazi port was now separate.
The split reflects the division in the oil producing country, which slid into turmoil after a Nato-backed uprising toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Since 2014, rival factions linked to competing governments based in Tripoli and the east have vied for power.
Misrata is a coastal city in western Libya with a major port of its own. Politically it is a hub of opposition to Haftar's LNA, which since April has been waging a military campaign to try to take control of Tripoli.
Since reopening, Benghazi's port has been receiving more than 400,000 tonnes of grains at 18 docks, twice what the port was receiving before 2014.
It pays salaries of 2.25 million Libyan dinars to 1,400 employees. It does not export oil, but imports gas and some petroleum products as well as general cargo.
Living standards have declined drastically during the conflict, and conditions remain tough across Libya. Governments have done little to alleviate economic suffering.
But Benghazi's port is well placed to supply the city and hinterland, and its revival has given staff there hope.
Customs broker Sabri Imraj said the port was loading more containers than it had before 2011. "We've now got to uploading 1,500 containers weekly," Imraj said. "Before 2011 it was 400."
(Production: Ahmed al-Rabiey, Nadeen Ebrahim)
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