CONSTRUCTION of the long-planned rail-link between the Tunisian border at Ras Jedir and the Libyan capital Tripoli is set to get under way later this year, following the signing of a US$477m contract in Beijing on March 2. The 191 km line is to be built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp, under an earlier co-operation agreement with the Libya Railways General Projects Office. CCECC is to complete the line by 2003, and then maintain it for two years.

LRGPO director Mohamod Abdull Samed told the China Daily that ’the railway project will contribute to the reinforcement of the friendship between Libya and China.’ He said that the two countries have signed a further memorandum of understanding to co-operate on future rail projects.

LRGPO is reactivating its plans for a 3000 km network, with a coastal corridor linking the Tunisian and Egyptian borders via Tripoli and Tobruk, and an 800 km north-south route linking iron ore deposits at Brach and Sabhah to a steelworks on the coast at Misratah (RG 11.78 p829). Last November, a Bulgarian delegation applied to build part of the network.