The Address | Benghazi – Libya
SUSAH – The Guidry Group, an American crisis management company, was granted this month a $1.5 billion deal to build Libya’s first port suitable for the world’s largest cargo vessels at the eastern city of Susah.
The company’s founder and CEO, Michael Guidry, told British newspaper The Independent in a phone interview that he finally succeeded in pitching his plan to build the country’s first deep-water seaport on Libya’s coast.
“If we’re lucky, this will be the jewel of North Africa,” said the 64-year-old Texan.
Guidry spoke of the dangerous security obstacles that he faced in Libya in the past four years while he was working on the project. One time, he narrowly missed being surrounded and possibly captured by ISIS militants on the outskirts of the eastern Libyan city of Derna. “We’ve had some bad days,” he said.
Despite the security challenges, Guidry said he’s optimistic because the Susah port project shows the country can still come together when something significant is at stake.
“What’s happened is that the seaport authority of the east has talked to the seaport authority of the west, convinced them this is a national priority,” he said.
In a statement, Hassan Jwaili, one of the seaport chairmen in eastern Libya, said both sides of the country were “working closely together on everything related to the ports and maritime capabilities”.
The Susah port, located 25 miles northeast of the east’s administrative headquarters in Bayda, will be situated in a natural harbor 18 meters deep and suitable for the modern supertankers considered the most cost-effective vessels for transporting goods across oceans.
According to U.S. business journal The Maritime Executive, the port will handle containers as well as breakbulk, bulk, general cargo, and potentially oil and gas. It will include a logistics facility fully integrated with a Free Trade Zone and is expected to be operational in 2020.
“In 2022, the Port of Susah is expected to generate approximately $60 million in revenue, and this is expected to double by the year 2040.” The Maritime Executive stated.
“Now it’s time to bring the economy where it needs to be,” said Guidry who added that Sudan and land-locked Chad have already voiced interest in using the Susah port to import goods.
Guidry came to Libya as a security contractor four years ago and said he fell in love with the country, and wanted to invest in something that would also create work for the people who welcomed him into their homes. He said he put his own money into the project, even drawing from his retirement savings. He noted that Susah lies near an ancient archaeological site where legend has it Mark Antony built his love Cleopatra a swimming pool.
“Five years ago people would have said: ‘He’s crazy. They’re going to cave in on him,’ or: ‘He’s gonna break,'” said Guidry.”But it’s real and it is happening.”