By Sami Zaptia.
London, 30 July 2021:
Saboteurs yesterday blew up station 353 of the eastern route (Al-Hasawna system – Al-Jafara Plain) feeding system of the Man-Made River (MMR) near Shewerif Municipality, causing it great damage, MMR Spokesperson Salah Al-Saadi told various Libyan media outlets.
The sabotage action will lead to the suspension of the water supply to the cities of Bani Walid, Misrata, Khoms and Zliten, and all cities fed by the eastern route, he explained.
Military engineers are currently securing the area for fear of explosives and mines planted by the outlaws, in preparation for the entry of the MMR maintenance teams to determine the extent of the damage and start maintenance, he added. He was unable to quantify the damage at this time.
The Spokesperson said that in the past two days, ‘‘a subversive group’’ was arrested that was trying to target the river lines to the west to destabilize security and cut off water from the western region. He believed that this latest sabotage operation is one of its goals.
It will be recalled that since the 2011 revolution that overthrew the Qaddafi regime, the MMR has been a regular target for vandals, saboteurs, criminal opportunists, and those with genuine/unwarranted political grievances. This has led to frequent water cuts and criticism of the MMR.
Up until August last year, for example, the MMR had reported a total of 149 wells had been attacked despite its continuing demands to the concerned state authorities for the provision of security of its assets.
Vandalism and sabotage lead to great loss of water output
The MMR said that the huge number of wells that were vandalized/stolen led to the loss of approximately 460,000 cubic meters of water per day – which is enough to supply the consumption needs of the entire city of Tripoli.
A danger to national water security
It had pointed out that the continuation of these attacks will hinder efforts to continue operations and hinder the flow of water to the consumption areas. It pointed out that the issue of the continued attacks on its assets is a danger to national water security, and an urgent national strategic necessity that cannot tolerate any delay or postponement.
Meandering MMR not easy to secure
It will be recalled that the MMR Authority has been asking for armed protection of its assets for years. In 2013 the then recently established Ministry of Water Resources said it would tackle the problem of illegal tapping of the Man-Made River and attacks on its assets with the creation of a brigade of 1,500 armed soldiers to police vulnerable sections of the MMR pipeline. However, in practice 4,000 km of pipelines and assets are not easy to guard in mostly isolated desert areas.
Tripoli and the western region of Libya had experienced acute water shortages last summer forcing many to dig bore-wells in their gardens or on pavements outside their homes costing about LD 5,000.
Dilapidated system in much need for overdue maintenance
In response to the criticism, the MMR Authority said that it has been doing its best to continue to supply water with the wells that are still operating and within its dilapidated system. It says the system is in need of much maintenance due to the sabotage and theft of wells, as well as the lack of scheduled maintenance of wells and flow control valves.
It also blamed the poor security conditions and armed conflicts, which it said also disrupted the operation processes and put it in a very critical situation.