hellish weekend in Sebta for our MREs

Last weekend, more than 10,000 vehicles and 40,000 people (estimated) crossed the Tarajal border towards Bab Sebta despite a waiting time which for many compatriots and other visitors to Morocco will have been longer than 12 hours.

According to data from the government delegation of the enclave, this weekend there was a peak with 4,400 vehicles on Friday, before dropping to 3,600 on Saturday, then to 2,200 cars after the authorities unblocked the pier of Sebta in extremis on Sunday. Exceptional measures were taken, albeit late, as was the case for the distribution of drinks which was only done on Monday noon.

On this day, the authorities recorded 2,066 vehicles, including 349 residents and 1,717 OPE (Operation Crossing the Strait) or Operation Marhaba. The crossing at the borders was done at a rate of about 50 cars per hour at the level of the Moroccan customs indicated a newspaper of the president which also announced the regular intervention of the emergency services in order to evacuate vulnerable people. Several people have decided to turn back. People who had to “wait” before crossing the Bab Sebta border point to the lack of rapid reaction from the overwhelmed enclave authorities. They have fortunately been supplemented by solidarity initiatives from local residents. Ilq distributed food, sweets and water to travellers, many of whom were compatriots.

Half a day then, at least such was the long and tedious wait in the parking area at the Esplanade de Loma Colmenar, without toilets or an environment in which to stock up (food, drinks, etc.), not to mention the heat and the fatigue, which many families with pregnant women, young children or even elderly people had to endure or suffer at the Sebta border before being able to continue their journey to Morocco. This Monday afternoon, it started to decongest. This Tuesday, a return to normal was even reported on the side of the check-in area at the Esplanade de Loma Colmenar, open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Which was not the case during this extended weekend to Monday and/or this space was crowded with cars.

This situation on this route is actually due to the drop in prices for the crossing, which are much lower than those practiced on the lines to Tangier. The low cost of the crossing and therefore the health checks and the strict documentary checks at the Tarajal border are the two main reasons for the monster traffic jams suffered by passengers. There is also this phenomenon, since the reopening of the border on May 17, strong crowds are noted on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday or even Monday) and with Operation Marhaba which started in mid-June after two years of frost, and therefore a constantly increasing number of travelers, we have reached this situation at border crossings.

Moreover, it seems that Sebta was not prepared for so many passenger flows. Moreover, many of them having transited through the presides, relied on the morality of the fable and “swore that they would not be caught there again”. On the other hand, the situation in Tangier seemed more fluid at the Tanger Med port, although a waiting time of 2 to 3 hours was still reported. It is even expected over the next few days that it will increase as the peaks of influx approach. Eid Al-Adha 2022, which will be celebrated next Sunday, presages that the movement of people will continue to be incessant and that this week will be marked by a flow adapted to the event whether it is on the side of Tangier or in Sabta. In Tangier, at the two points of arrival in the city, we have ensured that things can go better despite a few small hitches upstream which will have to be remedied.

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