Trailer park residents in Libya demand better living standards

The trailers have not been maintained since the 1970s when the compound used to house employees of a foreign company who worked at a nearby factory. (Reuters)

Welcome to Tin Neighborhood – the graffiti says it all.

Behind the wall lies a trailer home compound, east of the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Many residents say the living standards on the compound have made life unbearable.

Dozens of families, some of whom have been living in the compound for over 15 years, are demanding the Libyan government help improve their living conditions.

“Conditions here are tragic; it is not fit for humans. During the winter, the ceiling drips, so my children and I have to run from place to place to avoid the drips. And during summer you can see yourself, even running 20 air conditioners would not help,” says resident of the trailer compound, Um Mohammad.

The trailers have not been maintained since the 1970s when the compound used to house employees of a foreign company who worked at a nearby factory.

The current residents rely on an old well inside the factory for their water supply, an issue which also causes them concern.

“Sometimes we don’t have water, and if we do, it’s not clean as it contains worms. It’s undrinkable,” Mohammad said.

The Libyan government is already dealing with infrastructural issues that resulted in the ouster and subsequent death of Muammar Qaddafi last year.

The new government faces challenges in convincing foreign companies to return to Libya to complete their projects.

“The ministry is working to coordinate with the committee in charge of these projects to get permission to activate them. This also includes infrastructure projects which concern citizens. The value and standards of these projects will conform to international standards,” said Fadlalla Abdraba, Assistant Deputy Housing and Utilities Minister.

Negotiations between the government and foreign companies have been stagnant due to the inability of both parties to reach an agreement on compensation for damaged machinery and looted project sites during the unrest.

“We have to address the issues companies face in bringing in manpower, the difficulties of companies restarting work and the difficulties of bringing in the materials to implement the projects,” said Abdraba.

Libya appears to have an uphill task in convincing foreign companies to resume projects that will help rebuild a war-torn nation, and improve the trailer homes of Um Mohammad and others living in the Tin Neighborhood.

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