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Greater Casablanca’s traffic congestion is a severe issue

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A new report by the World Bank Blog exploring the urban dynamics and challenges in Greater Casablanca noted traffic congestion is severe, with the area accommodating around 20% of the country’s cars, exacerbated by relative underinvestment in urban mobility.

The report noted that Greater Casablanca, encompassing the city of Casablanca and adjacent urban areas, “houses over 13% of Morocco’s population on less than 1% of the national territory, with more than 50,000 additional people moving yearly.”

It underscored that “the region is a key engine for economic growth in the country, contributing a quarter to the national GDP,” with the port of Casablanca positioning the city as “a logistics hub for greater integration into the global economy.”

The World Bank, however, highlighted the challenges posed by rapid urbanization, including persistent social inequalities and pockets of poverty. It mentioned that “approximately 150,000 people live below the poverty line, facing inadequate infrastructure and services.”

The report said, “deteriorating urban transport conditions in Casablanca have had a particularly detrimental impact on women, youth, and vulnerable people,” costing households 10-20% of their income and significantly contributing to climate change, accounting for a third of Morocco’s CO2 emissions.

It emphasized that current air pollution levels in the capital city remain largely above the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended threshold.

Yet, the report applauded the substantial efforts made by the Moroccan government and local municipalities over the past 15 years to address urban mobility.

It said that they are updating the 2007 urban mobility master plan and, through the authority, Casa Transports, have invested over US$2 billion, with the government successfully implementing several actions and major projects to improve access, quality, and sustainability of urban mobility services.

Buses remain the most widely used public transport mode, for this reason,  in 2019, a concession agreement was signed to enhance bus access, and on March 1, 2024, the city launched the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

Supported by the World Bank’s Morocco Urban Transport Program-for-Results (PforR), says the report, this BRT system “promises significant improvements in daily commutes, particularly for residents of densely populated areas like Ain Chock, Salmia, and Arrahma, reducing journey times by at least 30 minutes.”

The Moroccan government, through the National Railways Agency (ONCF), is also working to complement this effort to improve road safety indication by expanding high-quality transport services in Greater Casablanca to connect the suburbs and neighboring towns through a 60-kilometer railway line.

The report noted that “this initiative will enhance access to jobs, education, healthcare, and other services.”

It concluded that successful urban mobility projects must be “comprehensive, integrated, sustainable, cooperative, and incremental. “

With World Bank support and strong collaboration with Moroccan partners, these initiatives are not only “improving lives but also enhancing the image and potential of Greater Casablanca, projecting a vision of modern urban development through well-conceived and implemented infrastructure and systems.”

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