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The Great Man Made River, The Great Scam

One day a small fraction of the population believed the 'Brother Leader' 16 years ago when he declared the days of the salty and sewage contaminated water were to be soon something of the past. Most of the Libyans never believed him. 15 years of repeated lies were enough to convey the message: promises, promises. Some, however, due to the pains of chronic water shortages had a small hope that the problem may be resolved at last.

The Libyan petrodollars may solve other countries' water problem like Jordan and Tunisia among others but not Libya's as long as Elgaddafi stays on the helm.

Some Figures:

The fourth phase of the 'Great Man Made River' has been finished. The cost of each phase averaged about $10 billion. First phase began in 1984 and the fourth ended a few years ago. More to follow. More than $40 billion, not $10 billion as the BBC reporter was told by some Libyan officials, have been wasted so far. Let us assume these amounts were to be invested in the simplest form of investment. Say a flat prime rate interest or an investment return of 7% per year gained on $40 billion. You would get around $4 billion of compounded returns per year.

If you look at the costs of an average size of a seawater desalination plant such as the 100,000 tons per day type built in Saudi Arabia. Total cost per ton of fresh water, turnkey, is $500 or even less taking into consideration multi plant installations. Total cost per plant is about $50 million. How many plants would you need to produce the design capacity of the 'Eighth Wonder' of 4 million tons per day? 40 desalination plants? Yes, at a total cost $2 billion or equal to one half of one year's earning of interest alone.

More than 4 million tons of fresh water per day would have been made available to the population 10 to 15 years ago just by simply investing a small fraction of the amounts wasted so far on the impossible dream. For the sake of the argument, lets assume an average of $20 billion was term deposited in a bank in 1984. Annual earnings would average $2 billion or about $32 billion over the past 16 years (minimum investment returns). Using these funds would have made around 700 plants to spring up along the sea cost at an average of one plant every 2.5 kilometers producing a total of 70 millions tons of fresh water daily or about 18 times the theoretical capacity of the Great Man Made Scam. An infinite redundancy would be created by the multi point plant system, which would serve as a great safety margin should one or more plants go out of service temporarily. That will not only supply the Libyans with an abundance of fresh pure water and diverse and secure the sources of their water supplies, but would transform Libya into modern day tropics.

This type of water infrastructure would become a major employment source where thousands of jobs would be created for the unemployed. One of the contributors to a Libyan cyber board says, "Building desalination plants along the coast would have also provided a stable job source for the droves of new graduates from a variety of educational institutions instead of resorting to theft, prostitution, selling dope and cigarettes, etc. It would have also provided a whole new industry of scientific research into Physics (try to harness the God forsaken heat to facilitate desalination instead of relying solely on Fossil fuel), chemical research to benefit from the byproducts of desalination (variety of minerals), and an abundance of jobs for technical schools graduates. Not to mention, of course, the great benefits of having an abundance of water supply .... such as a rise in the standards of health for the nation, overall cleanness of the country. Any visitor to Libya today can't help but be taken aback by the level of decline in the personal hygiene for all Libyans which is directly resulting in maladies and diseases unheard of before this age of decline." All in all, this type of activity would readjust the social infrastructure by encouraging research and development and restructuring the technological market approach. Local suppliers may replace international sources at least for simple equipment at the initial stages of this long-term project.

One disadvantage of this system is that Elgaddafi will be deprived of the ease by which he would control and manipulate the valves. As in the case of the Dry River, turning a couple of valves would render the Libyan homes dry at any time he would feel to apply the pressure. However it is not his intention to truly supply Libyan homes with their needs of pure fresh water supplies.

It is high time that Libyans realize such a dream will never be fulfilled no matter how much wealth is foolishly wasted on such a scam. We start to hear lately of excuses to justify why the 'The Great Man Made River' is dry after all. Every party is blaming the other for the failures. Soon the 'River Engineer' will unleash his cleansing committees to sacrify some scapegoats. Tajura is never been so ready to taken more first class guests.

It is vitally important that the Libyans understand the game and try harder to put a quick end to it. It is a political ploy and a one way flow of cash out of the country. If this lie is let to continue it would serve the Libyans with a first class one way ticket to hell.

Oulad Slemaan, Hrawa

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