By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 6 May 2013:
Tripoli’s annual agricultural fair opened tonight with half the stands completely empty after a shipping container . . .[restrict]carrying the wares of 63 Turkish companies was held by customs at the port of Khoms.
The companies, exhibiting at the sixth Agro-Libya Food and Fishing Exhibition, shared the cost of transporting their goods from Turkey by using a single container. Since its arrival several days ago at Khoms, the container has been held up by Libya customs officials who, it is claimed, refused to release the shipment.
Tonight, the organisers of Agro-Libya had to explain to the Minister of Agriculture, Ahmed Ayad Ali Al-Urfi, the Minister of Water Resources, Hadi Henshir, and the Tunisian Ambassador in Tripoli, Reza Abukati, who were there to officially open the exhibition, why it looked as though it were still under construction for its opening ceremony.
The organisers say they had complied with customs’ demands, preparing and sending an official letter, but that the authorities had not made up their minds over whether to release the container. They apparently claim that the fault lay with the Turkish shipping company.
“This is a big problem” project manger for Agro-Libya Rola Ajjawi told the Libya Herald at 4 pm this afternoon. “The fair opens at 6 pm and many of the companies have not yet been able to set up their stands because of these customs’ procedures.”
The container was finally released this evening and arrived at Tripoli International Fairground at around 8 pm. The Turkish companies, Ajjawi said, will now have to spend the night unpacking their goods and setting up their stands in preparation for tomorrow.
Old-fashioned and tardy customs’ procedures at Libya’s ports continue to plague businesses and charities importing goods to the country. A container of donated medical supplies, sent by the Canada-based charity BC Camp for Libya, was held at Tripoli port for over a year because of problems with customs.
One of the organisers for Libya Build, which is currently setting up its largest ever fair at the capital’s Sports City, told the Libya Herald today that shipping the equipment for the exhibition had been its biggest worry. “Shipping is always the main concern in Libya,” he said, “so we made sure everything arrived early, at the beginning of April”. [/restrict]