For its stopover in Tunisia, the Ibn Battuta Odyssey of Alternatives, a mobilization across the Mediterranean which culminates at the COP22 in Marrakech, set up camp in Gabes, although the boats had docked in Bizerte. Three days of exchanges and debates concerning an environmentally- and socially-destructive economic model and potential alternatives drew attention to the deplorable environmental situation in Gabes, and were marked by heightened tension following the death of a STEG worker who was asphyxiated by the fumes of the industrial zone. Report.

The forum held during the Odyssey’s stopover in Gabes opened on Thursday, October 27 in a “village” of plastic tents in front of the high school. In spite of agreements in principle, officials did not provide the necessary authorizations for the science department’s classrooms to be made available for the occasion. Coincidentally, the forum began one day after the death of Abdelkader Zidi, an employee of the Tunisian Electric and Gas Company (Société tunisienne de l’electricité et du gaz, STEG), as he was crossing Gabes’ industrial zone. The death was likely due to a toxic gas leak at an ammonium nitrate factory of the Tunisian Chemical Group (Groupe chimique tunisien, GCT). Abdeljabbar Rguigui, member of the UGTT executive office, was present at the forum to testify. Before a crowd of several dozen people, he recalled that this was not the first time the lives of workers have been endangered by the chemical industry.