The “Khouribga tragedy” questions surveillance measures… and the chaos defies the great national bets

Once again, the “road war” hits hard in Morocco, claiming more lives of Moroccan citizens and perpetuating the “bloodshed” that has been going on for years. After the interests of Traffic and Golan of the General Directorate of National Security revealed the death of 20 people in 1,577 traffic accidents in different cities, in just one week (from August 08 to 14), the overturning of a bus of public transport for travelers in the Khouribga province came to remind us of the seriousness and cost of the phenomenon, human and material.

The tragedy was caused by the overturning of a passenger bus, which was coming yesterday, Wednesday, from Casablanca, bound for the city of Al-Faqih bin Saleh, in one of the bends of National Route No. 11 that joins the cities of Khouribga and Al-Faqih bin Saleh; While sources from the online newspaper Hespress indicated that “the death toll reached 23 as of Wednesday night, registering dozens of injuries and fractures of varying severity; There are several children among them. They were transferred to the medical departments of the Hassan II Regional Hospital in Khouribga.

The same sources indicated that the accident mobilized the interests of the Royal Gendarmerie, Civil Protection and local authorities, in order to transfer the injured to the hospital and refer the bodies to the morgue; This was done through ambulances and others to transport the dead belonging to the Sharif Phosphate Complex and nearby ground groups to the crash site.

Although a previous report to the National Security Directorate listed the main causes that led to the occurrence of urban accidents, in order, such as “drivers’ attention, lack of respect for the right of priority, speeding, lack of attention to pedestrians, not leaving the safety distance, changing direction without a signal and lack of control, unauthorized change of direction, driving while intoxicated, disrespecting the parking lot imposed by the red signal, driving on the left side of the road, overtaking in a defective way and driving in the prohibited direction”, the tightening of control on roads outside the urban orbit of cities is strongly advanced with the recurrence of each fatal traffic accident.

At a time when the Royal Gendarmerie Department of the Khouribga Company, under the supervision of the competent Public Ministry, opened a search to determine the causes and circumstances of the bus overturning, explained the National Road Safety Agency (NARSA), through an official source. , that “the completion of the ongoing investigation into the matter will clarify the facts of the accident in the Khouribga areas, and whether the reason is the driver or the road,” he said, adding that the interests of the agency and the rest of The authorities are closely monitoring the situation.

And if the control and containment operations in terms of traffic and Golan in urban areas have allowed the security services to record 47,663 infractions, complete 6,532 reports that were sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and extract 41,131 fines, within a week, then monitoring national highways and tightening their procedures outside the cities continues to be the demand of many actors and citizens.

Official estimates indicated that traffic accidents on Moroccan roads continue to claim the lives of some 3,500 people, leaving some 12,000 injured annually; At a rate of 10 deaths per day, despite the development of a “national road safety strategy” to deal with this problem with reinforcement measures to reinforce control, especially after a bus tragedy between Marrakech and Ouarzazate in the south, whose coup resulted in 42 deaths in 2012.

At a time when the Moroccan authorities responsible for and intervening in the road transport sector, according to the same strategy, aspire to “reduce the number of traffic accidents to 50 percent by 2026”, the situation continues to be “worrying, according to the National Road Safety Council. (NARSA), which recorded an increase in Traffic Accidents in 2021 increased by more than 18% compared to 2020 and more than 13% compared to 2019.”

National Monitoring Scheme

Narsa has developed the National Monitoring Plan 2022-2024, whose methodology is based on analyzing the state of road accidents by geographical area, identifying its main causes, and identifying the monitoring issues and road junctions that record the highest number of accidents traffic; In addition to writing the investment program, governance and evaluation of operations.

In this sense, the General Director of the National Road Safety Agency, during a press interview on the occasion of the presentation of the aforementioned plan, stated that the implementation of this plan aims to “coordinate, in an integrated manner, surveillance operations established by the various actors capable of providing the necessary means and equipment to implement their tasks”, adding that “the activation of this national plan will be carried out under the supervision of a central committee of leadership and guidance supported by regional committees updated in all regions of the world”. Kingdom.”

As part of its efforts earlier this year, the agency has gradually strengthened its logistics capabilities used in the “automated traffic law violation monitoring and inspection process,” with the goal of reaching more than 550 new speed cameras. generation in various agencies, which currently has about 150 devices.

“Look from the station”

Younes Abou El Sebaa, president of the Moroccan Federation of Road Safety Associations, said that “responsibility is shared by all parties involved”, explaining that “road space is shared by all”.

Abu Al-Sebaa explained that it is not surprising that “passenger bus traffic accidents constitute 14%, which is still a high percentage in general”, wondering in this regard: “What is the fault of innocent people who board to a bus that they do not know the working conditions of its driver or its mechanical condition, for example?”

The collective actor, in an interview with Hespress, focused a lot on the conditions of road transport professionals for travelers, especially the category of drivers that the Highway Code conferred as “professional driver”; This requires, according to the spokesperson, “many considerations that affect the core of their working conditions, especially working hours, health coverage and others,” noting that “if they have full professional rights, the percentage and number of accidents and its causes will automatically decrease by a large percentage.”

Abu Al-Sebaa did not miss the opportunity to attribute a large part of what has been experienced in the field of road safety in Morocco to what he described as “the chaos of the sector”, underlining in a tone of recognition and regret: “A bitter truth, innocent citizens pay the price”, noting that “article 137 of the Traffic Code includes the creation of regional technical and administrative committees whose mission is to investigate in depth the causes of accidents that occur in various regions of Morocco, but they were not activated and it didn’t happen at all, which raises a big question mark,” according to the same spokesperson.

The head of the Moroccan Union of Road Safety Associations, founded in 2000, concluded that “talking about stricter control leads us to say that monitoring and its procedures start from the station by tripartite committees in charge of it (station employees , police, and employees of the Ministry of Transport to monitor the roads)”. He denied that the human factor alone was the cause of 86 percent of all accidents in the last year, for example.