China delivered the first batch of a total of 130 buses for a non-existent public transportation network in the besieged capital of Libya, local officials announced over the weekend.
“If these buses do indeed go into operation, it would be the first time public buses have operated in the capital for about 20 years,” the Libyan Herald reported Tuesday, adding:
The first batch of 35 ‘‘City bus’’ models for the new public transport network in Tripoli arrived from China at Tripoli port last week and were released on Sunday, operators Asahem Company for Public Transport said Sunday.
The Asahem said it will announce shortly when operations will commence and that buses are expected to start operating trial runs in mid-September and routes will be introduced gradually.
It will be recalled that on 26 March this year, as reported by Libya Herald, Libya signed a contract to import a possible total of 130 buses from China’s King Long company.
The Libyan company operating the buses claims it will expand public transportation services to other cities in the country.
Despite a raging civil war and jihadi groups operating across oil-rich Libya, the United Nations-brokered government last year agreed to join Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The BRI aims to link China to Europe, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere through a network of infrastructure and technology-oriented projects.
U.S. officials have repeatedly accused China of using the BRI to push “predatory” lending practices used to undermine borrowing countries’ sovereignty with unsustainable loans collateralized with strategic and natural assets.
Beijing made the delivery of the buses amid ongoing deadly clashes in Tripoli between the renegade government and the U.N.-backed administration.
In April, warlord Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive to take Tripoli from the U.N.-backed government headquartered in the city.
Fighting reportedly continues in Tripoli.
With the help of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Russia, and France, the LNA has reportedly conquered most of Libya.
A civil war has been raging in the North African country since the U.S.-backed overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Jihadi groups like the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and its rival al-Qaeda also continue to operate in the country.