Pioneering Urban Actions on Accesibility in Tangier and Tetouan

On 2nd April 2019, the final event of the ACCÉS TANGER-TÉTOUAN project was held in Tangier, with the aim of promoting the exchange of knowledge and good practices on accessibility policies in Mediterranean municipalities, exposing the opportunities and responsibilities of local authorities in promoting accessibility in urban public spaces and facilities.

This seminar was also an opportunity to present the results of the ACCESTT project including the tools and pilot projects developed during the implementation, developed under the coordination of MedCités and the leadership of the municipalities of Tangier and Tetouan, and counting on the capacity to execute actions of the Association 'Colombe Blanche' in Tetouan and the Union of Associations in Tangier.

The opening session was unveiled by Mr. Mohamed Bachir Abdellaoui, President of the Urban Commune of Tangier, who highlighted the important results of the ACCES TANGER-TETOUAN project for the citizens' quality of life. He expressed the commitment of the City Council Technical teams to give continuity to the  transformation on urban accessibility in the cities of Tangier and Tetouan.

Mr. Xavier Tiana, Secretary General of MedCités, continued to celebrate the success of the actions and  the promotion of urban accessibility thanks to the consultative spaces on accessibility that are formalized and reinforced in each city from the initiatives developed within the project. He emphasized that the process of urban transformation towards the accessible city will need the supervision and support of this consultative body, in ordet to accompany both large and small urban projects and the provision of public services. To this end, it was pointed out that the formalization and integration of consultation spaces will be a key factor.

Mr. Mohsine Rachidi, President of the Union of Associations working in the field of disability in the city of Tangiers, and Mr. Ahmed Aidani, President of the Association Colombe Blanche de la Ville de Tétouan, defended the inescapable responsibility that local administrations, with the support and accompaniment of civil society, have to play on the arduous road towards the transformation of accessibility in our cities.

We had the honour of having the intervention of Mrs. Sandra Bestraten, President of the College of Architects of Catalonia in the demarcation of Barcelona, who spoke about the responsibilities and opportunities of the local administrations in the field of accessibility, illustrating examples from the city of Barcelona under the effective and indisputable planning of the Municipal Institute of People with Disabilities (IMPD). The latter represents the counterpart of the consultative spaces on accessibility promoted in the project.

The second presentation came from Francesc Prat, representative of COCEMFE, promoters of the Motor Group of Metropolitan Accessibility together with the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB), illustrating the experience of the municipalities of the metropolitan area in the elaboration and execution of municipal accessibility plans.

The third intervention was given by the legislative expert, Mr. Abdelmalek Asrih, who focused and contextualized the improvementes and challenges of the accessibility in Morocco.

The last intervention was developed by the local coordinator of MedCités, Mrs. Rabia Aoulad El Ghazi, who pointed out the most outstanding aspects of the ACCES TANGER-TETOUAN project. The main actions of the project can be grouped in five axes:

1. Training on technical and legal accessibility within municipal technical teams, local authorities and civil society.
2. Consultative Spaces on Accessibility. Support and strengthening.
3. Exchange of knowledge and experience on urban and uni-versal accessibility.
4. Implementation of urban pilots.
5. Development of guides on accessibility criteria, as a basis for promoting co-munal plans on universal accessibility.

Among them, the points referring to the consultative spaces and the implementation of the pilot projects have meant an over effort and high involvement of the project teams in both cities for the success of each activity.

The creation, support and route of these consultative spaces, work that requires long processes of dialogue between the authorities and civil society actors, has only begun and is reflected in the difficult governance that has meant the implementation of the two pilots on accessibility that are carried out in the framework of the project.

The two pilot projects developed in Tangier and Tetouan are samples of the first experiences of urban transformation towards accessibility that are developed in both cities. In Tangier, an area is transformed around a cultural centre that, as a significant element, installs the first traffic lights with sound support for blind people in the north of Morocco, with all the technical implications in the traffic network that this implies. In Tetouan, an intervention is carried out in historical heritage, the Bab Okla door of the medina, which in addition to its technical complexity, has a great impact on pedestrian circuits, as it is one of the busiest routes in the city.

To conclude the conference sessions, a rich debate took place where it is worth highlighting the intervention of representatives of the commune of Tangier, stressing the importance of consultation spaces for the urgent inclusion of accessibility in each urban intervention with immediate effect; as well as the intervention of a representative of the regional cell of Social Works of the Ministry of Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water of the Kingdom of Morocco, who announced the firm intention to support municipalities in the processes of transforming accessibility, as well as, the availability of budget to commit urban projects; both interventions show the positive impact that the project had within both cities.

For finalising the journey, the study visits were successfully developed in the pilot project sites: Boukemakh Cultural Centre, in Tangier, and  the historic gateway to the medina "Bab Okla", in Tetouan.

As conclusion the final phase of this small project, we would like to thank all the acts involved for their great commitment, without which it would not have been possible to achieve the great results presented today, which our understanding directly and positively impact on the citizenship and quality of life in Tangier and Tetouan.

More info is avilable in the following links:

Tanger City Council Website: http://tanger.ma/node/1988

Tanger City Council Social Media Channel: https://youtu.be/Gj9ZwUpBAEY

Local Media: http://chamaly.ma/article/49264/