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Morocco: Transport Strikes Leaves Morocco Crippled

Over the past week, a general transportation strike across Morocco has left the country nearly immobile.  Many Moroccans rely on buses, trains, and grande taxis to get from town to town.  Peace Corps volunteers, who make up a large segment of the English-language blogosphere in Morocco, were particularly affected by the strike and shared their stories.

Petit taxi, Er-Rachidia, Morocco

Petit taxi, Er-Rachidia, Morocco

One such volunteer, the blogger behind Duncan Goes to Morocco, explains the strike in detail:

The strike started on the 8th of April. It is supposed to affect all public transportation. Anyone who makes their living by driving (even transporting goods) is on strike. In small villages like my community, our local market transit is partially affected. Our transit driver went to and from Tounfite on Saturday and Sunday, but has not gone other days. I’m not sure what governs his decision.

Transportation workers are striking because they are upset with new laws imposed by the government. There are several new laws, but a couple that people talk about a lot. One is that anyone who kills someone else with their car (regardless of fault) will go to jail for upwards of ten years. Most of the other laws concern fines for traffic violations such as speeding (1,000 Dhs) and running a red light (also 1,000 Dhs). The government is making these laws in order to reduce the number of deaths on the road in Morocco, which is currently high.

The effects of the strike are far reaching. In big cities, local taxis are affected, which transport many people to and from work on a daily basis. For people in the countryside, the greater concern is traveling between towns/cities. My host dad has to travel to Tounfite in order to collect his quarterly retirement pension from the post office. He went on Monday morning, but could not find return transport so was stuck in Tounfite for… Other people have to travel to and from places like Midelt for business, but are unable to.

Jewish Morocco was frustrated by the strike as well and wrote of difficulty traveling:

Woke up early and headed to central bus station and grand taxi stand. Spotted taxis to Jeradda. One was nearly full…but with taxi drivers. Grand taxis continued to strike. Headed to bus station and almost all buses were grounded including ones to Jeradda and Berkane. Heading back to Oujda to find woman with keys to the syangogue.

Just yesterday, oclynn in Morocco, another Peace Corps blogger, wrote that “the strike is still on and Morocco is a mess. Got a ride on Sunday w/strangers to Sefrou, as not even the nukls were running.”

But today, the good news arrived, as bloggers reported the news that the strike had ended. Peace Corps blogger Reflections and Experiences in Al Maghreb al Aqsa penned:

Last night, as Doug and I were walking back to the hotel in Azilal after dinner, we received text messages from Houda, a PC staff member, telling us that the strike was over! We ran back to the hotel, and had a little celebration with Houda, who was just as excited as us.

After spending 3 weeks out of my site, I was finally able to travel back toward Tiznit today. I got as far as Tiznit, where I am spending the night. I hope to run a few errands tomorrow morning and be back in the arms of my poor cat by lunchtime.

And The View from Fez, noting that everyone was tired of the strike, stated:

The taxi, and bus strike that has crippled Morocco over the last week appears to have been called off. At least for the time being. The View from Fez understands that the Transport Minister has agreed to reply to the drivers’ demands within thirty days. It is hope that he will tone down the rather excessive penalties for drivers involved in accidents.

Photo Credit: Omer Simkha

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