- North Africa
- Wars - Terrorism
Resident in the city of Sirte in Libya implores for reconstruction
Thousands of buildings with collapsed walls and missing storeys in the Libyan city of Sirte still implore for renovation where Muammar Gaddafi made his last stand a year ago.
Many residents are bitter at the new government against their desert city overlooking the waters of the Mediterranean which was the jewel of the Gaddafi regime. The veteran dictator had lavished millions on his hometown, building conference centres, university buildings and villas, but much of what was not levelled in the buildings of fighting that terminate in his capture and killing. Report says people are now fixing their homes and shops by themselves, repairs are been paid out of their pocket. Many of the resident in that area hope that one day things will get better but their greatest fear remain that the new government has made no promise. According to others, the negligence of the city of Sirte by the government is an act of vengeance.
On the main commercial street, shops have reopened but many are functioning only from their ground floor shop fronts, their upper storeys have been blown away by shelling. People are trying to restore things and live a normal life again but the government offers no help,” said Mohammed Mansur, a 40year old man, who re-opened his convenience store just three months ago. He said redoing his shop cost him 7 000 Libyan dinars ($5 600) and more than two months of labour to repair just the front part of his shop where rickety shelves offer a limited selection of drinks, food and cleaning products.
As of now, builders merchandise are the only businesses that are turning a real profit in a city where an estimated 11 000 homes were partly or totally destroyed. Sources say, Insecurity is a major concern in a city which once prided itself as the safest in Libya. Um Mohammed, says that things were definitely better before given there were no guns and gangs. “Sirte under Gaddafi was the safest city and we could go out at night”. Local authorities say it is vital for the central government to pay more attention to the city of some 100 000 people, if it wants to avoid a future backlash.
Ahmed Korbaj, a member of the city’s reconstruction committee says, they are trying to convince people that this change is positive and important but they must present something to the people in the name of reconstruction. He acknowledges the fact that housing is the most important need in a city whose population has been swelled by fugitives from onetime Gaddafi. The acting leader of the city council, Ali Labbas, said it was impossible to rebuild in a year a city Gaddafi had spent his whole 42-year reign developing and warned the residents it could take six years to restore some of its luster. Graffiti slapped by Libya’s victorious rebels still crowns the twin drainage pipes on the city’s outskirts where Gaddafi met his end a year ago, with a gun in the hand in a final act of boldness. A discreet sign is put up by anonymous sympathizer on a nearby tree to note that it was the place of death of “leader Gaddafi” not the despised “tyrant” as know by the new regime.