Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Garbage Strike in Fez

The garbage collection strike that brought the Fez Medina to a virtual standstill for the last three days appears to be over.
A local boy holds his nose to avoid the smell
With about sixty percent of shops closed in protest, the Medina was not its usual welcoming self this week. Traders, already hurting from the tourism downturn, were angry and confused by the growing piles of rubbish littering the Medina streets. Crowds of residents had heated exchanges about the cause of the problem but many were simply perplexed that the situation had been allowed to develop. Abdoul, a merchant on the Talaa Kbirra, told The View from Fez, that it was not just the economic disruption, but... "A matter of hsuma (shame). This is our beautiful city and that visitors see it like this is hurting my heart." Others spoke of a potential health hazard.

Tourists step around garbage in Place Seffarine
By the third day, the piles of rubbish had grown to the point where vendors closed most of the shops and places such as Place Seffarine were completely closed. The gates to the Attarine precinct around the central mosque were locked.

During Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning vast amounts of rubbish were cleared away. Local shopkeepers and residents were also hard at work washing and sweeping neighbourhood streets. R'cif, which had been one of the worst hit areas, was completely clean by 10 this morning.

Shops closed as the rubbish piled up
The cause of the problem was not simple to ascertain. Everyone had a different story to tell. However, it seems that the failure by the contracting company to pay workers was at the heart of the issue. Some businessmen told us that the workers were also demanding clothing, gloves and better equipment. Another, usually reliable source who asked not to be named, said that a large sum of money (600,000 dirhams) had been taken from the contracting company by an individual. We have been unable to verify this allegation.

Hopefully the clean-up will continue and visitors to Fez will once again enjoy the clean streets and friendly people of the Fez Medina.

1 comment:

'abdul muHib said...

Up at the top of the medina, I didn't notice any problem until the final day, when the streets in the New City were closed off because of the garbage collector protests. People were telling me it was because people hadn't been paid in two months. When I got home, on the final day up at the top, everything was closed off because of the smell and trash. It struck me that the smell wasn't that bad. I've smelled it before- when I visited people living in the dumps of Tijuana, Mexico, or the Christians who live in the dumps around Cairo in the Muqadam Hills.