Tripoli, 12 February 2012:
Residents on both sides of the Libyan-Tunisian border are calling for a third crossing to be opened at . . .[restrict]Mashhad Salih.
At present there are just two border crossings — at Ras Jedir on the coast and Dhiba further south. Both are becoming increasingly congested.
Last month a convoy of Libyan and Tunisian supporters of the move marched to the Mashhad Salih border line. The area is located 80 kilometres from Tataouine and some 40 kilometres from Nalut in the Nafusa mountains.
It would involve building some 20 kilometres of new road from the Tunisian border to link in with the existing Libyan road network.
“If this project is completed, I’m sure it will be a good crossing and a lifeline that will offer additional services to the two peoples, who are linked by a single future and a single fate,” Abderrazak Mbarki told Tunisian news website Magharebia. “It will be a fraternal link facilitating movement of goods and people and breathing new life into relations between the two countries.”
The existing border crossings are increasingly congested. Matters have been made worse at Ras Jedir recently by clashes involving Libyan militiamen from the Zuara brigade controlling the crossing. It is resulted in the Tunisian authorities closing the border on several occasions.
The Dehiba crossing is controlled by the Nalut brigade.
Supporters say that a new crossing would ease trade exchanges and see the development of the area around Mashhad Salih.
“With this new crossing, which will connect our cities with Tunisian cities, it will be a new window for these actors to take their share of development after years of marginalisation,” Magharabia quoted Mohamed Ben Abdel Adhim, from the Nafusa Mountains, as saying.
“Many will also benefit from this crossing due to its saving time, effort and suffering of travel,” he added.
It is said that the need for a third crossing has been made all the greater because of the Libyan revolution. As a result of it, Libya has been importing far more goods from Tunisia. Additionally, many more Libyans are travelling to Tunisia for medical treatment, short vacations and to visit relatives staying there.
“The rising demand in Libya after the revolution and the increasing need for Tunisian products prompted everyone to go there. This generated a sort of overcrowding on the existing crossings and lengthened the wait for travellers and merchants,” local resident Jalil Bargouth is quoted as saying.
Magharebia quotes residents in the Tunisian town of Tataouine as being enthusiastic supporters for a third crossing because it would develop cross border trade and ties. [/restrict]