By Rachid Madani
By Rachid Madani
Morocco World News
Beni Mellal, Morocco, July 11, 2012
Excited and controlled by joy because I’d be traveling to see my parents and relatives, I took the taxi to “Ouled Ziane” bus station in Casablanca. As I stepped out, a number of ticket brokers hurried toward me, holding small ticket books and pens. “Where are you going?” one asked. “Fes, Meknes, Agadir,” the other added. I shook my head no and continued walking to the bus stand without saying a word. “Just tell me where are you going?” one insisted. “Beni Mellal,” I quickly replied. After hearing my reply, they dispersed in search of prospective passengers for their journey, letting me continue my walk.
After crossing the station’s hallway and heading in the direction of the bus stand, shouts from brokers were coming from all sides. As I came near, my hope was to find a good bus because I knew that few buses that travel to “Beni Mellal” are in “good health,” and most of them are very old and in terrible condition. As I came closer, I know that I was unlucky again and I’d pass my five hours of travel on one of these old machines, and the journey would mimic many of the previous ones.
I got my ticket and went up in search of a seat, but could only find one in the rear end of the bus. Before the bus started on its journey, all kinds of merchants came in trying to sell their commodities. Here comes one with sandwiches, the other with chocolate and sweets, while another sells drinks and the other medical products and creams. And in between the sellers’ visits, beggars arrived, true ones that seems destitute and in need of help, but also swindlers and crooks that benefited, sometimes from the ignorance of people and others from their sympathy, to deceive them and steal their money, as it is the case with a couple that I encountered there more than twice, repeating the same scenario of begging people for money to get a bus ticket to “Agadir,” the sum that never collected.
Half an hour or more before the machine crept out of the station, I thought we were just happy to move, but it was just the beginning of the misery. The bus was full to the brim, not just the seats but the passage in between. As we move away from Casablanca, the weather was becoming hotter, and the bus was becoming slower or just thought so for the bad conditions of the travel.
During the trip, I was mesmerized by the window, once counting buildings and asking different questions for which I certainly don’t have answers, and other times just gazing at trees or just staring while my mind wondered. A loud laugh comes from this side, a type of music coming from the other; it’s simply as if a “souk” traveling. And I was all hope to end that horrendous trip.
Most people might ask why should I accept traveling in these conditions, and not take another mean of transport if I am not satisfied. My answer is I wish if I could, because I don’t have many choices. The railway ends only in “Oued Zem,” some 100 km from my destination “Beni Mellal.” And when I wonder why it stops there, I can’t find another explanation than because the train is found to take “OCP” employees, and not all people. And even if I want to take the train, it’s only two trips a day.
Traveling to Beni Mellal using public transportation is really a nightmare, and it’s scarce that one would be lucky to travel on a worthy bus. And those who are obliged to travel the city grudgingly accept these conditions. But what about those who just want to give a visit to this beautiful city? Without doubt, after testing it once, they’ll never repeat it again.