By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, Morocco, February 19, 2012
The government officials have lately demolished many houses and buildings in Agadir and its nearby surroundings, towns and villages. The majority of the owners of the demolished houses are poverty-stricken families. The government has set out to put an end to shanty towns and to ill-built houses on the ground that the owners do not possess legal permits in the first place. To the city dwellers’ dismay, it has, however, turned out that the government has deprived many victims of their livelihood and made them homeless instead of beautifying the city as has been intended.
Yet, the unasked question on the part of the government is why it has resorted to demolishing as a solution and not to forcing dwellers to have their houses officially registered instead. No matter what the excuses the government may offer, it should never demolish the houses that the poor families have worked day in and day out in order to build. I believe that the government could have enforced a law whereby all families need to have the right documents claiming that their houses are in good shape. In other words, a variety of solutions could be open to the government, except that of making these families, especially poor ones, more destitute than they have been.
Furthermore, in response, I would say that the poor families in question couldn’t have resorted to building without legal permits if the majority of officials in charge of the permits had been firm in disallowing any kind of this ill-building. As usual, it is not surprising that the officials in question are notorious for taking bribery. And if citizens give bribery to the official, they are immediately allowed to build. Here, for God’s sake, who has aided and abetted these poor people to build without permits? Isn’t it the government per se? Nobody can deny that it really is.
And since the government has been aware for long that poor people build without permits, why didn’t it intervene to put an end to this corruption rather that put an end to the already built homes? Personally, I hold Benkirane, the head of the government, responsible for the losses, and I recommend that the victims be recompensed the soonest possible. If the government were really determined to get rid of illegal building, it should instead order people to get the permits for the simple reason that the poor families will stand seeing their homes being demolished and that it will take them much longer to be able to build again.
What I can’t make out is why the government has waited until the houses are fully built and then set out to demolish them. If the government possessed any goodwill, it should have warned the poor families of what has now befallen the houses. If the poor families had been aware of what would befall their dwelling, they would have hastened their pace to make the necessary amendments. Instead of encouraging the poor families to have a home of their own and facilitating their miserable mode of life, the government has unfortunately made these families homeless and destitute. And if the government were willing to combat corruption, it should start with the wealthy and go down step by step to the poor and not the other way around as we do when we clean the stairs.
To my utter dismay, it was during the last elections that the majority of the poor families seized the opportunity to build their houses. No official objected to what they were doing at the time. And the government was acutely aware of the rampant phenomenon permeating all corners of Morocco. And as the elections came to an end, Benkirane became head of the government and set out to purify the beloved Morocco of corruption, and for the government, demolishing ill-built houses is part of reform. Strangely, the latter should have addressed the defects of those living in the ivory tower and the middle classes, not the common grassroots. Surprisingly, among the fruits the poor families have gained from the new government who they elected several weeks ago is having their own houses demolished. What a coincidence!
Omar Bihmidine is high school teacher of English. He obtained his Associate Degree at Choaib Eddoukali University in 2008. His writings take the form of short stories, poems and articles, many of which have been published in Sous Pens magazine, in the ALC magazine in Agadir, and in the late Casablanca analyst newspaper .
The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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