A group of Moroccan Non-Government Organizations have launched the Stop TGV campaign in protest of Morocco’s $2.4 billion high speed rail project. The TGV line is expected to link up Casablanca with Tangiers by the end of 2015, reducing travel time from 5h45 to 2h10. Proponents of the project say that it will boost the economy, improve tourism traffic, and have a trickle down effect through improved infrastructure and job creation, but critics claim that high speed rail is a luxury that Morocco can ill-afford.
The 219 mile TGV rail link construction project was awarded to the French company Alstom in 2007. One blogger, Larbi, said the project is an economic crime designed to assuage French President Sarkozy’s hurt feelings over losing an arms contract to the United States, according to Global Voices Online.
In September, 2011 “At a ceremony chaired by King Mohammed VI of Morocco and President Sarkozy, the Moroccan Minister of Transport Karim Ghellab explained that the TGV is expected to generate new jobs and offer training opportunities in rail professions for Moroccan jobseekers,” writes GVO. But activists are not convinced.
The above graphic published in French by Stop TGV demonstrates how the $2.4 Billion planned expenditure could be better spent in a country that ranks second lowest in the region in terms of human development.
How to spend $2.4 billion
Here is a bulleted list of the projects in English, although we should point out that google translate is not always 100% accurate:
- 3,000 to 5,000 schools or high schools in urban areas
- 25,000 schools in rural areas
- 100 engineering colleges and 300 fully equipped technical training institutes
- 25 major university hospitals fully equipped with a total capacity of 22,000 beds
- 6,000 hectares of serviced industrial areas (36,000 industrial units)
- 16,000 community centers, libraries or community centers
- 10,000 media libraries
- 16,000 kilometers of rural roads
Last year we traveled through Morocco and found the country to be very accessible compared to other countries in the region. We were able to visit far flung parts of the country via bus or rail, even if these trips sometimes took a long time.
But we also noticed that sewage facilities in populated tourist areas, not to mention rural areas, were in need of serious attention, and the communication infrastructure was very poor – even in Casablanca, which is the business capital of the country.
Education, education, education
And although the Berbers are able to speak many different languages as a result of their contact with tourists, most receive a religious Islamic education that inadequately prepares them for the challenges of the modern world.
Ismail Tahiri, Editor of the Tangiers newspaper Fadaa al-Boughaz, told Construction Shows that the TGV Morocco might reduce travel times for businessman, but that money would be better spent improving education, health, and infrastructural facilities.
He notes that “30% of the country’s residents are illiterate, 2 million students quit school each year, and the country ranks 106th out of 128 on UNESCO’s list of educational development.”
Do you think that Morocco should spend this money on high speed rail, or should the government build more schools?
:: Stop TGV
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