The Spain-Morocco tunnel project awaiting a definitive impetus

Under study since 1979, the construction project for the tunnel between Spain and Morocco is resurfacing and could materialize sooner than expected. Indeed, the improvement of relations between Rabat and Madrid and the visit of Sanchez to Morocco last April should relaunch an infrastructure on which the two Kingdoms have been working for decades. The step taken by Spain to improve its diplomatic relations with Morocco could be the key to the final impetus that the project needs to build a fixed link that would link the two banks of the strait.

With a length of 42 km between the terminal stations (that of the tunnel of 38.7 km, including 27.8 km underwater), this fixed line will have a strong economic impact on the region. It will be a hub for European and African transport networks that will facilitate the movement of people and goods between the two continents. This is an added value to the transport development strategy in the Western Mediterranean, says La Razon.

In fact, there are two Spanish and Moroccan public companies to develop this idea which has been dragging on both sides of the strait for decades and which, for the time being, has not yet been able to see the light of day. Indeed at the time, the two countries had created public companies, respectively SNED (Morocco) and SECEGSA (Spain).

This conception has its origins in the Hispano-Moroccan joint declaration, dated in Fez on June 16, 1979, by which King Hassan II of Morocco and Juan Carlos I of Spain, aware of the importance that relations between the two countries and between Europe and Africa would in the future have expressed their willingness to work together to develop the said project. The latter often put on the back burner by the two Monarchies, due to diplomatic hazards, under the reign of King Mohammed VI, is currently, having come out of the drawers, the news.

That said, the realization of this infrastructure is more and more evident since the project to connect Morocco and Gibraltar via maritime tunnel under the Mediterranean or a bridge was recently announced. This prompts Spain to take a closer look. But that is not the question, the project to link the two continents (Africa-Europe) with regard to the current international context is more and more topical, it is an open secret, the Kingdom of Morocco, n he dislike some has always been considered the main gateway to deep Africa.

The tunnel to access the Continent and vice versa of its logistics platforms, transhipment areas of the transport chain, rationalization of infrastructures, operation of storage facilities, reduction of transport costs… could only do good for two continents.

In this perspective, the conditions of the Strait of Gibraltar and the adjacent territories are particular and even exceptional with three large ports (Algeciras, Tangier and Tangier Med) and two medium-sized ports (Cadiz and Sebta)”, indicated, Jawad El Kerdoudi , president of the Moroccan Institute of International Relations (IMRI) who had assured that one of the main obstacles during the realization of this project had been the cost.

” In the pasthe said, organizations had expressed interest in financing this infrastructure, such as the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, Arab funds or the African Development Fund”.

Indeed, the viability of the project could encourage the use of one of the three tunnels as a gas pipeline between Morocco and Spain, allowing gas to be transported in both directions. This issue should be on the agenda at the next bilateral summit which should be held before the end of 2022.

In the meantime, the two parties concerned have agreed to jointly study the viability or feasibility of this permanent link in the Strait of Gibraltar, to this end it has been decided to proceed with an exchange of scientific and technical information, through the creation of two joint study companies.

An agreement of “scientific and technical cooperation” was even signed, signed on November 8, 1979, between the two countries, which constitutes the legal basis of the cooperation between the two for the feasibility study of a fixed link through the Strait of Gibraltar. A Mixed Committee, made up of ten members, five Spaniards and five Moroccans, meets at least once every six months, alternately in Spain and Morocco. The jobs are divided between the two according to the principle of balancing the financial burdens between the two countries. All the studies carried out within the framework of the aforementioned agreements are the property of the two countries, and the two Companies keep each other mutually informed of the progress and results of the studies.

As to the feasibility of the thing, unlike what happened with the much longer Channel Tunnel, the problem in the Strait of Gibraltar is the depth, the regime of winds and sea currents, tides and waves as well as its complex geology. In addition, there is an important factor: this is the border zone between the Eurasian tectonic squares and the so-called Azores-Gibraltar fault. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the seismic activity that may occur in the strait, as a result of the collision of these plates.

Never mind ! When it is operational, Europe and the Maghreb will be able to develop their exchanges more widely and more efficiently, using a complete network of communication channels, from Europe, from the nodal points located along these axes, which will reach the whole corniche of North Africa, and perhaps the Mashreq -if Algeria returns to more sensible reasons-, Egypt and Asia, to the East, as well as l sub-Saharan Africa, in the South, from the networks that will leave from North Africa.

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