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UK architects well placed for Libya work

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British architects are in an ‘excellent position’ to win work in Libya, a delegation that visited the war-battered country this week has reported back

Not-for-profit membership organisation British Expertise took a number of UK firms including Capita Symonds and GMW Architects to Tripoli on a trade mission.

A key focus of the trip was to get a feel for the situation on the ground as the governing National Transitional Council (NTC) works to stabilise the country.

Many British architects are keen to win work in Libya, while others are waiting to hear the status of contracts awarded before the fall of Muammar Gaddafi last October.

British Expertise Middle East director Dominic James told the AJ: ‘British companies are in an excellent position, partly because of our role in the conflict and partly because of our reputation for quality.

‘We constantly heard that those countries that backed Gaddafi will not be in favour when it comes to work.’

He said members of the delegation wanted to make new contacts in Libya and renew old ones. ‘We wanted to get a foot in the door.’

Although this was achieved, he said, a stark picture emerged of the work needing to be done in the country.

‘Every single construction contract in Libya is being reviewed by the NTC and that process has just started. Every building site is empty – the workforces fled and the money is frozen.’

He added: ‘Some social infrastructure projects have been fast-tracked, such as schools and hospitals, but the main focus at the moment is on law and order.

‘There is an election in June, and then Ramadan, so my gut feeling is we will see things moving in September.’

British Expertise travelled with a security company and said that although the delegation felt safe, they did hear occasional gunshots in the small hours.

The organisation will return to Libya in the summer.

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