Vehicular traffic through Operation Marhaba or OPE (Paso del Estrecho) recorded a notable increase compared to 2019, the reference year before mobility restrictions due to Dame Covid disrupted one of the flows of most important people and vehicles between continents.
It must be said that with more than 3.3 million travelers and more than 760,000 vehicles in the summer of 2019 (ref), the operation constitutes, over such a short period (two summer months), the most important passages from one continent to another. The Spanish news agency EFE, which drew its sources from the Spanish Interior Ministry, indicated that vehicle traffic since the launch of Operation Marhaba in mid-June until last Tuesday was up 68% compared to 2019, where a mixture of circumstances (pandemic combined with a diplomatic crisis) forced the closure of maritime traffic.
With the approach of Eid Al Adha this Sunday, on both sides of the two banks, an even greater flow of passengers and vehicles is expected. So we prepare accordingly. In Morocco, to better anticipate peak periods, a provisional calendar has been put in place. The Tanger Med port foresees peaks with significant passenger arrivals and massive departures on busy days at given periods (Aïd Al Adha, start and end of holidays, etc.) and more than 40,000 passengers per day are expected to pass through this passage.
It is estimated that the Marhaba operation, carries every day that God makes some 35,000 people and 4,500 vehicles during the crossing between the Old Continent and our Morocco or vice versa. While on the busiest days, more than 66,000 people and 17,000 vehicles would cross the strait each day.
That said, if on the Moroccan side in Tanger-ville, Tanger-Med, Nador foresight is required, this is not the case for the two enclaves where one is rather overwhelmed. So much so that the president of the municipal council of Sebta, Juan Jesus Vivas was pushed to ask the Spanish executive to reduce the number of ferry shuttles between the continent and the president from 24 to 18 to decongest. It is true that the experience of the last weekend traumatized, so to speak, the authorities of the enclave.
Unfortunately for Vivas’s request, it turned a deaf ear, according to enclave television. Indeed, the alleged reasons do not fall within the considerations of the Spanish law on maritime navigation. This one which stipulates which are the prohibited entries of ships in the Spanish ports does not envisage the situation of tensions experienced last weekend in Sebta.
Rejected therefore, this request will not be executed. Also in the enclave, as recommended by the Spanish executive, failing to limit the number of rotations of shipping companies, which could end up creating legal disputes, we would be moving towards a reorganization of the programming of the operation. In exceptional circumstances, exceptional measures. Also, we will try to adopt the docking schedules in the port of the enclave and to prevent the arrivals at the same time of two or even three ships and to reorganize them at different times.
The President’s government delegation has indicated that what happened last weekend is no more and no less than a substantial increase of 181% in vehicles and 128% in passengers having passed through the city, and this , compared to the first weekend of the reference year (July 2019).