By Julia Cabrera
By Julia Cabrera
Rabat – In efforts to “guarantee safety,” Morocco and Spain are limiting the number of porters that can access the enclave to 4,000 starting Monday and reopening Tarajal II border.
For many people, transporting goods from Ceuta to their respective cities is a way of life. They enter the enclave and purchase different kinds of goods at large quantities, taking as much as they can carry on their backs over the border to re-sell. According to Europa Press, people have been allowed to do this for years because of a lack of commercial customs in the Tarajal borders.
Nicolás Fernández Cucurull, the government representative in the Spanish territory of Ceuta, explained in a press conference that the Tarajal II border inaugurated on February 27 exclusively for Moroccan citizens making a living as merchandise porters, and will now be reopened in order to, “avoid tensions on both sides that would be difficult to bear.” According to Europa Press, Cucurull was referring to the challenges it would cause the thousands of Moroccans subsisting through cross-border trade.
Limiting the entry of porters into the Ceuta borders to 4,000 per day, along with the re-opening of the Tarajal II border are the present efforts to assuring security and bettering the conditions for the porters. .
According to Cucurull, the solution to the Ceuta border high transit situation is to reform regulations in accordance with the “exception of the Schengen Treaty that allows access to the city of neighbors with passport in force and without a visa from the Moroccan province of Tetuán, whose population has gone from less than 200,000 to more than one million inhabitants.”
Cucurull and Ceuta Mayor Juan Vivas told Europa press in February that the volume of Moroccans surviving as porters between Ceuta and the neighboring country has increased “exponentially.” Currently, traffic to Ceuta is estimated to be 15,000 cars and 25,000 people per day
Ombudsman Soledad Becerril, noted that she was struck by the sight of the thousands of women of different ages carrying large heavy packages during a January visit to Ceuta. There are many organizations raising awareness for better conditions for porters, such as the Association Pro Human Rights of Andalusia (APDHA), which advocates for a maximum weight of 20 kilograms per package to be established, as well as the provision of rest areas and public restrooms. They had also pushed for the closure of the Biutz Bridge that was closed last month.
To date there are no deadlines set for when such regulations will be formed, however Cucurull has communicated his ideas to Ministry of the Interior and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which have begun investigating his aspirations.
The Police Intervention Unit, which until now has served to regulate the flows of porters through the commercial spaces next to the borders of private ownership, will soon cease their regulative duties, forcing business owners to hire their own private watchmen.
“The Labor Inspectorate has legal doubts about being able to prohibit this activity and its elimination could generate a serious social problem in Morocco that we must all take into account,” Cucurull stated.
For the general administration of the state, the Ceuta enclave will continue to be a working progress. According to Europa express, they will continue searching for “formulas to regulate the package trade, whose growth has a complex solution.”