Libya’s 8th wonder of the world


IN an autobiography titled My Vision, the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi pencilled the story of his life, including his successful dreams that saw the creation of the great man-made river (GMR) of Libya.
It was, in his own words: “Libya’s eighth wonder of the world.”
Was Gaddafi beating his own drum?
He did not need to wait for the international community to qualify it as a ‘wonder’ as it spoke for itself.
Indeed, just like the other man-made wonders of the world, the GMR reflected not only Gaddafi’s intelligence, but the level of development he was aspiring to.
His eighth wonder was similar to the other seven man-made wonders that include Channel Tunnel, a tunnel under the English Channel that connects Folkestone in the UK to Coquelles in France; the CN Tower in Canada — a telecommunications tower built by Canadian National Railways in 1976; the Empire State building which is a 102-storey building; the Golden Gate Bridge that connects the city of San Francisco to Marin County to its north; and the world’s largest operating hydroelectric facility, Itaipu Dam, located on the border of Brazil and Paraguay.
With the existence of the GMR, Colonel Gaddafi created a ‘miracle’.
A desert was turned into a vast field.
The GMR was Gaddafi’s quest to provide fresh water to all Libyans and to make Libya self-sufficient in food production.
His efforts resulted in a self-sustaining country.
With oil and water, nothing seemed impossible in Libya.
The GMR significantly contributed to Libya becoming a developed nation.
It must be known that the North African nation is one of the driest countries on earth, with more than 90 percent of its land a desert.
The year 1953 led to the discovery of oil reserves and vast quantities of fresh water trapped under the sand in what is known as the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, which is the world’s largest aquifer.
Of the four ancient water aquifers that were discovered, each had estimated capacities ranging between 4 800 and 20 000 cubic litres of water.
The majority of this water supply was accumulated almost 15 000 to 25 000 years ago.
Gaddafi and his Government nationalised oil companies and converted oil revenues to financing the supply of fresh water from the desert aquifers by putting in hundreds of bore wells.
The late Libyan leader did not only make possible the availability of water, but encouraged the majority of people to migrate from the northern coastal areas to southern Libya which had become a ‘green desert’.
GMR as a fully-government-funded project was designed in five phases, each largely separate in itself, but which finally would combine to form an integrated system.
As water in Gaddafi’s Libya was regarded a human right, there were no charges on the people nor were any international loans needed for the almost US$30 billion project.
According to Gaddafi, Libyans were the sole inheritors of their heritage therefore had to enjoy the fruits of their resources for free.
He turned the desert green through taking advantage of the vast oil resources the country possessed.
Boasting the GMR would make the ‘desert as green as the flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya’, Gaddafi proudly embarked on the giant scheme in 1983, drilling down the desert sand to tap the aquifer’s abundant waters.
Described by the late South African leader Nelson Mandela as ‘one of the greatest revolutionary legends of our times’ and cynically by US’s Ronald Reagan as the ‘mad dog of Middle East’, Gaddafi made wonders in his country.
The first and largest phase of the river, providing two million cubic metres of water a day along a 1 200-km pipeline to Benghazi and Sirte, was formally inaugurated in August 1991.
All material for the project was locally-manufactured.
Phase Two included the delivery of about one million cubic metres of water a day to the western coastal belt and also supplying Tripoli which is the largest capital city of Libya.
Gaddafi was so proud of his work that in 1996, during the opening of Phase Two of the GMR project, he said:
“This is the biggest answer to America and all the evil forces who accuse us of being concerned with terrorism.
We are only concerned with peace and progress.
America is against life and progress; it pushes the world toward darkness.”
Phase Three provided the planned expansion of the existing Phase One system, supplying Tobruk, a port city on Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast, near the border with Egypt and the coast from a new well field.
Wikipedia says the rivers are a 4 000-kilometre network of four-metre-diameter lined concrete pipes, buried below the desert sands to prevent evaporation.
There are 1 300 wells, 500 000 sections of pipe, 3 700 kilometres of haul roads and 250 million cubic meters of excavation.
In Gaddafi’s plan, the last two phases of the five phase project should have involved merging the distribution network together.
When completed, the irrigation water from the GMR would enable about 155 000 hectares of land to be cultivated, meaning Libya could have become one of Africa’s bread-basket.
So great was Gaddafi’s plan that it became not only a source of development for Libya but proof that Africa could sustain itself economically.
The story of Libya and Gaddafi’s plan in creating the eighth wonder of the world speaks volumes of what type of a leader he was.
Many were made to believe Gaddafi was a ‘dictator’ who deserved to be killed.
Some African countries, like South Africa and Nigeria, were influential in the demise of Gaddafi, but it is his quest for the emancipation of Libya and the rest of Africa that tells a different story.
It is a story that had hope for a completely liberated Africa sustaining itself.
Writer William De Berg in his book, Serpent and Saviour, says Libya became the target of the West due to the dreams of its leader
and the abundance of its resources.
“Besides sitting on huge reserves of the world’s sweetest crude oil, the greatest solar factory in the world and incredible that he so adroitly called the Great Man Made River, his main problem was Libya was sitting on monetary reserves, which he proposed to use to help launch an African Monetary Fund with gold- backed African dinars,” writes De Berg.
Gaddafi believed in the possibility of linking the whole of Africa to the same network of water, but his plans were thwarted by the West who hate a truly liberated and united Africa.
As soon as three phases of GMR were complete, the ‘war’ against Libya was launched by the West.
Gaddafi was labelled the ‘worst leader in the world — a dictator’ who deserved to die.
The hated leader found himself on the agenda of the United Nations (UN) Security Council which is controlled by the so-called super powers that include the US, Britain and France.
In no time, NATO, an inter-governmental military alliance between several North-American and European states attacked Libya.
NATO said it had evidence the plant was being used by Gaddafi’s forces as a military storage facility and that rockets were being fired from the site.
It is evident NATO came out with controversial evidence as a way to destroy a wonder of the world that had emerged from Africa.
Africa had to remain backward and continue begging from Europe’s parasitic institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank and not look up to one of its own.
Gaddafi’s plans to complete the construction of the last two phases of the GMR were destroyed by NATO, a move which highlighted the hypocrisy of the West.
At the time of the NATO-led war against Libya in 2011, three phases of the GMR project had been completed.
NATO did not only bomb the GMR water supply pipeline near Brega, but also destroyed the factory that produced the pipes to repair it.
This shows that the West’s intention was to destroy the core of the project, and leave no trace of Gaddafi’s efforts.
When NATO attacked Libya’s GMR, six of the facility’s security guards were killed.
The attack destroyed water supply for 70 percent of the population who depended on the piped supply for personal use, irrigation and economic development.
Kieran Cooke, a reporter for the BBC and Financial Times, writes that since Gaddafi’s fall, there have been allegations of multi-million dollar bribes being paid to Libyan officials in exchange for participation in the ‘rebuilding’ of the scheme.
At the same time, there were reports that lack of spare parts and chemicals was endangering the workings of the GMR.
Cooke also writes that power blackouts meant people in Libya’s two main cities, Tripoli and Benghazi, had to go without water for up to eight hours a day, sometimes longer.
Other parts of the country, including farming regions, dependent on the GMR for irrigating crops, were similarly affected.
Gaddafi’s dream and vision was destroyed for Africa has to remain a ‘Dark Continent’.


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