Italian companies set to begin work on Tripoli International Airport and 1,700km coastal highway

Italy is to begin work on Tripoli International Airport and a coastal highway that will run through Libya from Egypt to Tunisia.

Italy’s foreign minister Luigi di Maio said Italian companies had also started planning reconstruction projects for Benghazi Airport, reports The Libya Observer.

The reports come after di Maio became the first senior Western politician to visit Libya’s interim government in March. He held talks with Mohammad Younes Menfi, head of Libya’s Presidential Council, after which he commented that the country now had "united institutions that represent all the country".

He added that he hoped to find opportunities in Libya for Italian companies.

Tripoli airport was the site of fierce fighting in July 2014 during which about 90% of its buildings and 20 planes were destroyed. It then became a staging ground for the Libyan National Army of Khalifa Haftar during their unsuccessful campaign to capture Tripoli in 2019.  

The fighting, which left 214 civilians dead and caused around $3.5bn of damage, left the country with only one functioning airport, in Mitiga, about 8km west of Tripoli city centre.

The coastal highway project was announced by the Libyan Foreign Ministry in December following talks with Italian government in September. These revived the 2008 "Friendship Agreement" struck by Muammar al-Qadhafi and Silvio Berlusconi as compensation for Libya’s colonisation. As part of the deal, Italy agreed to fund construction of the highway.  

The motorway will be built by Italian contractor Webuild (formerly Salini Impregilo) over a 36 month period. World Highways reports that the 1,700km road will form the missing section in the North African highway between Morocco with Egypt.

Image: Tripoli International Airport has been closed since 2014 (Dreamstime)

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