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Rowing against the Tide of Modernity

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Moroccan ferrymen battle not just winds and currents but also rapid urban development which is threatening their traditional way of life. This year the coronavirus and a sharp drop in tourism have further conspired against the water taxis across the Bou Regreg river estuary, between the capital Rabat and its twin city of Sale. For decades, the boatmen have used elbow grease to ply their trade, rowing their bright blue boats, decked out with cushions and carpets and shaded by parasols, across the choppy waters below the medieval Kasbah of the Udayas. A once flood-prone estuary has undergone a 1.5 billion euro development programme, launched in 2006 by King Mohamed VI with the help of renowned architects such as Marc Mimram and Zaha Hadid. Since then swamp areas have been reclaimed, overpasses built and a luxury real estate project with a marina has transformed the Sale riverfront. Since 2011, a tram supplements the bus network, used by the thousands who commute daily from residential Sale to their jobs in the capital. Some regulars still prefer the gentle bobbing of the small boats driven by muscle power. On weekends, the quays of the Bou Regreg still draw crowds of visitors, many of whom take boat tours to the ramparts of the UNESCO-listed medieval fortress where the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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