Morocco Transport Projects

Harbours Projects

In March 1994 work began on a new harbour at Dakhla in Western Sahara as a centre for coastal and deep-sea fishing, including a 1,300-ha free-trade zone. In March 1996 it was reported that ODEP planned to invest 1,700m dirhams ($200m.) in port development over the period 1996-2000. Its plans included investment of 328m dirhams for the purchase of equipment and 144m dirhams for infrastructure development at Casablanca, 361m dirhams at Dakhla and 145m dirhams at Jorf Lasfar. ODEP reported a rise in its turnover of 23% to 1,127m dirhams in the year to the end of September 1995.

In February 1996 shipping firms reported severe congestion at Casablanca owing to the Government's campaign against smuggling, which led to the arrest of a number of senior customs officials. In November 1996 the Government launched an initiative to raise interest in a$300m investment project to build a new multi-purpose deep-water port in Tangier. The aim of the project is to divert all merchandise traffic from the existing port, which is expected to suffer from serious congestion by 2002, despite short-term expansion projects in 1996-98. The contract for the project, known as Tangier-Atlantique, was expected to be awarded in 1998.

It involves the design, construction, operation and financing of the new port under a 50-year concession. The second port at Tangier is scheduled for completion by 2003. In November 1997 Spain agreed credits of $4m towards the cost of a new port at Agadir. In February 1998 ODEP announced that it was planning to spend $220m on modernizing and expanding the country's port facilities during 1998-2002.
Railways Projects

The railways are operated by the Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF). In 1989 the company planned to invest nearly 1000m dirhams in rail development, including projects to double the Rabat- Kenitra line and the construction of a connection between Casablanca and the city's King Muhammad V airport. Also considered were an extension of the rapid transit system which runs between Casablanca and Rabat south to El Jadida, a rail link between Taourirt and Nador in the northeast, and a controversial plan to link Marrakesh and el-Aaiun, in Western Sahara. In mid-1992 it was announced that the ADB had agreed to contribute US $84m towards an estimated $270m programme to improve main railway routes, in particular the Casablanca-Fez line.

In January 1997, following a two and-a-half-year period of almost no new investment, it was reported that ONCF was to start work on a $591m. (5,200m dirhams) four-year restructuring and investment plan after securing loans to cover part of it. The plan includes rehabilitating installations, modernizing the rolling stock and reorganizing the company. In April ONCF awarded a contract to double the Kenitra-Meknes railway line to a local/Spanish consortium as part of the investment programme.

The World Bank agreed in May to lend ONCF $85m to expand the domestic network and purchase seven new locomotives, while in July the EIB approved a loan for rehabilitation and upgrading work on the Marrakesh-Casablanca and the Rabat-Fez-Oujda lines. The ADB has also pledged $85m to support ONCF's investment programme.

In September 1997 Cegelec of France was awarded contracts to electrify the Kenitra-Sidi Kacem line, improve lines serving Casablanca and rehabilitate the Sidi el Aidi-Oued Zem phosphate line. In October ONCF announced that it was interested in granting concessions to private investors to build and operate new railway lines of which the first would probably be a 120-km line from Taourit to Nador and Beni Enzar where a new port was planned.

In 1996 ONCF for the first time reported an operational profit, of 7,000m dirhams, though the company still incurred an overall loss of 206m dirhams. The company was expected to become profitable in 1997. In February 1998 three French companies began a feasibility study financed by France for a 28-km metro for Casablanca. The $588m project (aimed to ease congestion in Casablanca) has been under consideration for some years, but the Government has been unable to raise the necessary finance for it.

Road Projects

The road network is well developed, comprising more than 60,000 km of road, of which 50.3% is paved. Most of the roads are built to design standards appropriate for a volume of traffic substantially in advance of that which they are currently carrying.

Airports Projects

There are 10 major airports in Morocco, as well as about 50 landing strips for light aircraft. In addition, el-Aaiun in Western Sahara has an airport. In 1991 a four-year programme to expand and modernize Moroccan airports, at an estimated cost of 1,200m dirhams, was announced. The Office National des Aeroports (ONDA) and the ADB were each to provide a 25% loan to finance the project. The remaining 50% of the cost of the programme was to be negotiated.

Marrakesh-Menara airport reopened in August 1991, after the extension of the runway and work on airport buildings at a cost of US $8m. A new passenger terminal was opened in July 1992 at Casablanca's King Muhammad V airport. The airport handled 1.8m passengers in 1991 and it was forecast that some 3.3m passengers would pass through the airport in 1993. The ONDA plans the creation of a major industrial and commercial zone, occupying 200 ha, as the latest phase in the expansion of the airport.

In 1993 a $36m contract to build an aircraft maintenance centre at the airport was awarded to a group of US firms, led by Westinghouse Electric Corpn. In December'1992 the ADB approved a loan of $102m to support the ONDA's plans to upgrade the infrastructure of Morocco's airports. In late 1998 the ONDA began to implement longstanding plans for a new airport at Nador, in the north-east, estimated to cost $45m. Royal Air Maroc, which was formed in 1953, is the national airline. It operates services to European and African countries, as well as well as to the USA.
In 1988 RAM handled 1.7m passengers, compared to 1.2m in 1983.

The number of passengers travelling by RAM increased steadily in the early 1990s, reaching 2.3m in 1994. Tourism accounts for a significant proportion of passenger carried, although flights for business-related purposes are increasingly important. Total freight carried by air has also continue to rise. As at November 1996 RAM operated 27 aircraft, most of them Boeings. The airline's current renewal and expansion plan envisaged the purchase of two new aircraft every year until 2001. Two Boeing 737-800 aircraft ordered in 1996 were delivered in May 1998 with financing arranged by the Banque Nationale de Paris.

Also in May RAM signed a cooperation agreement with Spain's national carrier, Iberia, and early in 1999 it was reported that the company wished to sign a partnership agreement with Germany's Lufthansa. RAM also signed an agreement to operate joint flights with Gulf Air, initially between Casablanca and Abu Dhabi, and in February 1999 became one of the first companies to begin regular fIight to the newly opened Gaza International Airport.

The company announced a sharp increase in profits during 1997/98 and aimed to carry 3.5m passengers during 1998/99. Five new aircrafts are to be purchased, increasing the fleet to 32 aircraft by 2001.An independent Moroccan company, Regional Airlines, was set up in October 1997 and during its first year of operations developed a network of domestic flights, together with flights between Casablanca and Malaga in Spain. The company plans to expand its network to other centres in Spain and Portugal.

Last Updated on Wednesday 9th December 2009