By Libya Herald reporters.
Benghazi, 17 September 2017:
Tobruk’s sole working water treatment plant is again on the verge of collapse meaning that some 400,000 people could in the town could soon be without safe drinking water.
The town’s problems are nothing new. It has long been short of water. But since 2015 outdated and poorly maintained equipment has been threatening disaster. The steam desalination plant is currently working at only ten-percent capacity. But now the boss of the water plant Fatalla Selim is warning that he is running out of chemicals needed to make water potable. Selim told the Turkish broadcaster TRT that for over a year he had been pressing for funds to buy new supplies but, he said, “no one is listening”.
His colleague Tarek Al-Safi at the Tobruk Water and Sanitation Company warned “This is a real crisis and could stop the only steam plant we have in the town. This could hit water supplies to more than 400,000 people. The plant is working at only ten percent of capacity”.
Last November, Beida government premier Abdullah Thinni called an emergency meeting of water chiefs to find out what was going wrong. The reality was that, as with state electricity company GECOL throughout Libya, there has been a dearth of government funding simply to maintain let alone expand capacity. In January 2016 Thinni had allocated LD6.5 million for urgent maintenance, largely at the Tobruk plant where cracked pipes and boilers had slashed output. In the event only LD1.3 million was ever paid.
Tobruk municipality has been looking at digging new wells and even building a brand new desalination plant able to produce 150,000 cubic metres of water daily. But with no central funding and no way to raise the money itself, such schemes have remained pie in the sky.