The land borders between Tunisia and Libya reopened on Thursday, August 19, as confirmed by Head of the International Health Care Office at the Ras Jedir border post with Tunisia, Mukhtar Al-Mansoori, following strict health precautionary measures in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.
The Libyan official was quoting by “Libya Review” as saying the crossing point will be open only to humanitarian cases, ambulances and commercial traffic, stressing that a special protocol will be followed, and protective measures will be taken. This includes wearing masks and social distancing, in addition to having a negative PCR test, no older than 48-hours.
A decision issued by the Libyan Prime Minister’s Office Tuesday said, “with reference to the committee monitoring the situation of Libyan nationals trapped in Tunisia, and based on its recommendation, it was decided to work on reopening the land and air crossings between the two countries.”
The text of the decision referred to the “the need to work to resume air transport between the two countries from Thursday, while taking all necessary measures related to the fight against the coronavirus.”
It should be recalled that on July 8, Libya closed its land and air borders with Tunisia, due to the spread of COVID-19 and the deterioration of the healthcare situation in the country. The decision came as a precautionary step due to what the Libyan government described as, “the exacerbation of the epidemiological situation in Tunisia, and the increase in the rate of infections with the Delta variant.”
A measure that looked like a sovereign decision, therefore unilateral, just like the one on the reopening of the borders announced by way of a statement. Joint Tunisian-Libyan meetings have been held continuously both at the level of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the border crossing of Ras Jedir, as spokesperson for the Tunisian Customs, Haythem Zannad stressed on public television Watania TV Wednesday.
He recalled that the two border crossings Tunisian-Libyan, Ras Jedir and Dhehiba are closed for a month and a half to the movement of passengers as well as good traffic, saying Tunisia’s exports to the Libyan neighbor amounted to 970 million dinars in the last 7 months, while imports are estimated at 52 million dinars.
He noted that the Libyan trucks entering Tunisia were not, for the most part, loaded with goods, and they returned to Libya filled with various products including construction materials and food products.
Ras Jedir will reach cruising speed in a week
400 trucks on average cross Ras Jedir every day in both directions, he said, expecting that the traffic of goods will reach its peak in a week in this border crossing point. The latter will resume its vocation as a common border crossing point, in the sense that the Tunisian and Libyan customs officers will have to work on the Libyan side, side by side, to provide the required services to the entry.
Zannad recalled that this modus operandi was in use before 2011, and had proved its extreme effectiveness, and it will be of great use in the future, knowing that the Libyans are determined to give bilateral trade a strong impetus that requires a substantial effort on the part of customs authorities,
The Tunisian Customs, he assured, is ready to fulfill its duty and strengthen its mechanisms for cooperation and collective work with its Libyan counterpart by taking advantage of the equipment available, the configuration of corridors and techniques of search and control.
In the end, it is all for the benefit of users insofar as a single control is carried out either on the Libyan side or the Tunisian side, which is synonymous with fluidity and speed.
On the subject of smuggling, Haythem Zannad, said the Customs is at the forefront in the fight against this phenomenon, and it intends, together with other stakeholders, to increase this action to preserve the national economy and safeguard the interests of commercial and economic operators.