Morocco to invest $ 850 million in rail transport
The Moroccan government has announced a plan to invest AED 7.7 billion (US $ 850.5 million) in rail transport from 2022 to 2024 to modernize and develop the country rail infrastructure and existing stations.
According to the Government Agencies and Enterprises (EEP) report, funding, which is part of the draft financial bill for 2022, includes investments of 2.9 billion dirhams (320.32 million USD) for the next year, in 2023 – 2.22 billion. AED (245.2 million USD), 2.6 billion AED (287.2 million USD) will be allocated in 2024.
The funding will support the institutional and organizational restructuring plan of the Moroccan National Railways Administration (ONCF), which includes the modernization and structural reform of the country rail sector. The railway company and the government signed an agreement on these investment plans in July 2019.
The agreement will help correct the financial position of the railway company, which has a debt of AED 43 billion (US $ 4.75 billion) at the end of 2020.
The agreement between the government and ONCF also includes the separation of commercial operations from management and infrastructure development. As of the end of June 2020, ONCF had turnover of AED 1.6 billion (US $ 176.7 million) and is estimated to reach AED 3.34 billion (US $ 369 million) in 2021.
In the first half of this year, investments totaled AED 687 million (US $ 75.9 million), and AED 2.7 billion (US $ 300 million) is expected to be invested by the end of this year.
The 2022 bill states that the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a 98% reduction in passenger traffic from March to May 2020, and an emergency plan was implemented to maintain the financial stability of ONCF and its transportation activities.
The report says ONCF carried 21.1 million passengers in 2020, down 45% from 2019 levels, and expects 30 million passengers to use its rail service by the end of this year. In terms of rail freight traffic, in 2020 the railway company transported 8.1 million tonnes of freight and 16.4 million tonnes of phosphates, and this year ONCF plans to increase total freight traffic to 8.4 million tonnes, while transportation phosphates are estimated to be reduced to 15 million tonnes. (decrease by 1.4 million tons).
AED 50 billion (US $ 5.5 billion) is an investment set aside for the period 2010-2020, which determined the modernization of infrastructure, as well as the opening in 2018 of the Al Borak high-speed railway line connecting Casablanca and Tangier. The rail investment plan includes infrastructure development.
The contract for $ 4.5 billion was signed in September for the construction of a 1,000 km rail system, 460 km of which will be high speed rail links. To modernize rolling stock, Alstom opened a manufacturing facility in Fez last year and recently signed a maintenance agreement for the Prima M4 locomotive fleet.
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