This is just an update on my recent visit to Libya.
I met the Ministry of Education officials again and received a warm reception. The Head of Vocational Education colleges asked me to visit six colleges in the Tripoli area so I now have some ideas for him on prioritising recovery work and how it could be done cost-effectively. Officials are quite naturally anxious about replicating the previous culture of buying expensive solutions from overseas and so we have given a commitment to come up with proposals that are sustainable.
The students were protesting at one of the colleges that I visited and had in fact closed the college for the day. However, when the Principal introduced me to them, the students gave me a tour of the college and seemed eager to let me know of the basic improvements that they were wanting. The protest itself was about security. Some armed young people were driving into the campus and harassing the students. I was told that it was no longer “cool” to walk about with a gun and that it was the more isolated/less able young men who were still carrying guns.
This is not the same as the armed militia who are seen as, to some extent, standing in for the absence of the police. As part of sourcing materials for the schools, I drove with a colleague to Sfax in Tunisia. This involved night-time driving in both directions. Road blocks in Libya were not a problem, I was never asked for my passport and those manning the few road blocks that we actually stopped at apologised for speaking to us. I was left with the impression that the militia on the streets were local and seen as providing some security. That said, I did hear gunfire from my flat off Jamal Abdul Nasser Street most nights after 10.00am.
I did not manage to meet the Deputy Minister for Education again which surprised me as, although he is very busy, I thought that he might have found time for a brief meeting. However, I see that Ministerial meetings with foreigners have gone out of favour for the moment. No doubt this is temporary and one can certainly sympathise with that reaction to the onslaught of foreign delegations, particularly from the UN, that the government is experiencing.
On 9 December we published a note by Graham McAvoy, Managing Director, Alligan, on a visit to Libya. At our request he has provided this note on another visit. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Libya Business News.