Business is booming on Misrata's docks, a dramatic change to the desperate days of April and May 2011. Then, under heavy shelling and rocket attack, only humanitarian boats were brave enough to enter the port. Now, millions of dollars of trade is passing through this port every month.
Currently, about 1,200 people work on site, but within 20 years, the Misrata Free Zone Company General Manager believes that 80,000 people could be making their living here.
The idea of the (Duty) Free Zone is to handle millions of dollars of goods, with only the products which are imported into Libya-proper being subject to tax. At the moment, that's the lion's share of the business.
But a rapid expansion of the transit business is underway. The intent is to turn Misrata into an international hub port; taking in the bulk of the cargo before distributing it to smaller ports across the Mediterranean.
In the first five months of 2012, turnover has trebled, from 3.8 million Libyan Dinar ($3.2m) to 9.4 million Libyan Dinars ($7.5m).
Indications are that it will hit 10.5 million Libyan Dinars ($8.4m) for June.
Export tonnage increased five-fold between January and April.
What is remarkable about this success is that it has been achieved with negligible input from Tripoli.
While the NTC government was struggling to organise national elections, Misrata pushed ahead with trouble-free city elections back in February. The new council is already engaged with organising health and education functions, as well as the police and security.
(Source: Al Jazeera)