The new port, capable of accommodating deep-water container vessels, will be located at Dalia on the northernmost tip of Morocco only 15 kilometres from Europe. The gateway city of Tangier will be some 35 kilometres from the port and will be linked to the complex by a new railway line. A highway will also be built to connect the port with the Tangier-Rabat motorway. The port, set to be one of the largest in the Mediterranean, will cost some MD 4,260 million ($395 million) and related infrastructure will cost a further MD 4,420 million ($410 million).
The port project will also include a number of free zones including a 98-hectare bonding and warehousing complex at Ouad Rmel where light processing can also take place. A 128-hectare duty-free zone will be established near the town of Fnideq and further export-orientated industrial free zones will be established between Tetouan and Tangier. The free zones will cost some MD 2,290 million ($213 million) to set up.
Work on the port complex is scheduled to start in early 2003 and it is expected to come into operation four years later. Construction will be carried out through a public-private partnership, with the Moroccan authorities assuming responsibility for basic construction and for offsite works and transport infrastructure. Construction of the port quays will be undertaken by private operators and financed on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. Private investors will also be responsible for the operation and management of the free zones.
Plans for the port received a boost on 30 July when Morocco’s ruler King Mohammed VI spoke of the need for integrated regional development and reiterated his desire to attract investment into the country’s northern provinces. He called for the creation of a development agency to oversee construction of the port.
Earlier plans for a port at Tangier were put on hold after France’s Bouyguessigned a negotiating memorandum with the government in April 1999. Bouygues was expected to sign a 50-year BOT licence to operate the container terminal at the end of that year, but the signing never took place. The proposed Tangier-Atlantic port was to have had an annual capacity of 500,000 TEUs. Details of the capacity of the Tangier-Mediterranean port have not yet been released (MEED 30:4:99).