It was announced last week that testing will begin on a tramway that will link Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, with Salé, a city that sits right across the Bouragreg river just 6.5 km, or a little over 4 miles, away.
The tram line has been built and will undergo eights months of testing. It’s scheduled for general public use starting in January 2011. If things move according to schedule I’ll be able to report on the tramway en direct!
Magharebia.com reported that the price of a one-way ticket between the two cities will run around 6.5 to 7 dirhams. That amounts to approximately 80 cents. According to Magharebia, this is less than the current cost to travel between the two cities.
Normally, the same commute requires taking either a city bus or a “grand taxi.” Grand taxis are larger than normal taxis and cover bigger distances. Typically, you pay for or negotiate the price for your seat and wait until there are enough passengers to fill the car before driving on to your destination.
You can also cross the Bouragreg in small boats. (**edit: no longer! see comments below) There has been so much development in the region, particularly along the coast in the region that the agency overseeing regional development (Agence pour l’Aménagement de la Vallée du Bouragreg) reached an agreement with the boat owners whereby the “barcassiers” would be paid to sit by during some riverside development.
One student is quoted in Magharebia as saying that her commute by bus from Salé to Soussi University in Rabat normally takes three hours. If the tram system works, it will greatly ease commute times.
Here, in wanting to comment on this news, I bump into my lack of knowledge not only about the new tramway network (I can fill in some of those holes thanks to Google) but also the bigger political picture. What does urban and transit development look like in Morocco?
TelQuel, an incredibly valuable francophone source for political news (sometimes to its detriment–the editors have been sued and censured several times) has an article out today on a proposal by the Interior Minister to create a structure, independent of municipal planning agencies, that will facilitate the “Bouragreg Valley Project.” (**edit: the article is actually a several years old.) The project covers not only the Tramway, but also various transportation, commercial, and tourism development. According to TelQuel, these are projects that would normally have to be submitted to the review of various local governing bodies or committees. The Bouragreg Valley project has the blessing of the king, however, which will expedite the process. The urban development agency of Rabat has been told, for instance, that authorization for development projects is delegated by the “administration” in the first place (meaning the national government, i.e. the king), and as such can be taken away.
The implication, of course, is that a rubber stamp government serves mostly to turn the wishes of the king into reality. This is a recurring theme in TelQuel’s coverage of Moroccan news.
The Tramway offers a great example of the puzzle of urban development–that is, fitting together the picture of day-to-day city life with the process of pushing ahead with development meant to improve people’s lives and contribute to the general health of a region.
Pour mes amis francophones, obtenez plus d’infos sur le réseau tramway, ainsi que sur la région, ici.
Et pour un article du mensuel TelQuel sur l’Oued Bouragreg barcassiers, ici.
Pour la version française de l’article Magharebia.com, clickez ici.
N.B. On voit le lien Maroc-Québec dans l’article TelQuel du 19 Avril:
“Le seconde tranche, évaluée à 5 milliards de dirhams, comporte une île artificielle pour le fun.”
Comme on dit, “Je trippe!”