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Benghazi Suffers…Late Wages, Power Outage, Lack of Food | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Plumes of black smoke are seen after clashes between the
Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and fighters of General Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi August 23, 2014. REUTERS

Benghazi- Again, electricity was cut in one of Benghazi’s stores; power outage has been very common in Libya; it could last for few hours and for few days sometimes. The majority of merchants and officials in the eastern region have bought electricity generators. However, the western side of the country remains under the control of militias and the spread of chaos and ambiguity.

After five years of agony, Benghazi and eastern Libya have expelled extremist militias, which controlled the region following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.

Meanwhile, the national army led by General Khalifa Haftar has besieged extremists in many suburbs of west Benghazi. According to local estimates, around 50,000 people who escaped from terrorists have returned home; optimism dominates the region with a serious campaign to reconstruct buildings damaged during the war and to reopen commercial centers and service institutions.

Benghazi wakes up every day to prepare itself for foreign economic delegations that seek to benefit from oil fortunes and reconstruction to implement new residential and tourism projects, which have been suspended since the armed uprising kicked off against Gaddafi.

The city has moved forward despite the power outage, delay in wages, and lack of food; markets including the oldest second-hand mart have resumed their activity and coffee shops have raised prices of beverages and internet service.

The real estate market has also recovered with the developers’ activity in the restoration of houses and stores; construction workers have also returned in big number, mostly from Sudan and Egypt, waiting for work opportunities without fearing of being kidnapped by extremist groups.

According to Ibrahim, a citizen from Benghazi, compared to when it was under extremists’ control, the city has revived despite past incidents during which gunmen raided malls, ignited fire in celebration halls, theatres, and galleries and blew up the headquarters of security buildings with booby-trapped cars.

On the official level, courts have received foreign visitors and officials who started to head in Libya to catch investment opportunities. These included Chinese, Iranian, French and Arab delegations.

Currently, Frances, Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services company, launched discussions to resume its projects with the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, which is a Libyan business that was severely damaged by the chaos caused by the extremist groups.

Foreigners have been wandering without fear in the city’s streets: Chinese commercial delegations and a U.S. medical team, Asian and European businessmen have visited the country recently. The majority of visitors have discussed the resumption of oil investments and construction projects and electricity plants rehabilitation.

Libya’s dependence on oil has limited the political and economic conflict to this issue. The army’s control on oil export ports in September has eased the tension in Benghazi but parties, which will export oil and benefit from its revenues are still unknown.

Along with the ongoing political dialogue among the different parties in Libya under the sponsorship of the U.N. to unify this country’s authorities, Benghazi seems to represent an important hub.

Serious negotiations have been launched between the two main oil companies (the Arabian Gulf Oil Company was divided into two separated companies) aiming at reuniting them, which will increase oil production by 700,000 barrels daily.

The Central Bank in Tripoli has adopted an emergency budget that is worth LYD1.5 billion, but revenues have remained unsatisfying amid the remarkable increase in the price rates of coal and gas.