The road to Tripoli

By:
Published on:

Engaging with the new Libya is no straightforward task for a foreign visitor.

Euromoney’s recent British Airways flight to Tripoli to research our feature on the Libyan Investment Authority ( Libya vs Goldman – The secret memo) is cancelled for "operational reasons".

This is a somewhat elastic term that in this case turns out to mean "someone fired two missiles into the runway last week". We take a circuitous route via Tunis instead.

Then, when it is time to leave, the hotel’s Hertz transfer service refuses to attempt the drive, and when Euromoney heads off in a taxi instead, it quickly becomes clear why.

Militias have blocked the airport road overnight, sometimes with bricks and sometimes with pro-Gaddafi slogans on banners slung across oil drums, and in one case with fortified barricades; a family of four are trying to dig out an earth embankment with their hands in order to create a navigable path to get their car over.

Eschewing such a strategy, Euromoney’s driver takes to a pitted dirt road, bouncing along among half-built houses and the shattered wreckage of cars illuminated by a massive dust-frayed sunrise.

The driver repeats, like an incantation: "Fucking Gaddafi! Fucking Gaddafi!" The roadblocks, he says, have been built by people still loyal to the former dictator years after his undignified death.

No matter: Libyan Arab Airlines, a carrier for which no travel agent in Europe appears to be able to issue a ticket, is running an hour late anyway as a matter of unremarked routine.

Upon landing, Euromoney learns that during the time we have been in the air the entire Libyan government has resigned.

Just another normal day for the new Libya.