Thursday, August 04, 2011

Fez Medina “roadworks” for fresh drinking water

As The View from Fez team are travelling in Europe, our correspondents on the ground in Morocco have been hard at work keeping us up to date with all the developments. Today, Anita Breland, from the blog Anita's Feast, reports on the massive amount of work being done by the regional water authority, RADEEF.

The thunk, thunk, chink, scruffle of stones being overturned is insistent, following the gently sloping incline of the street to my house. A light breeze catches a whiff of fresh earth and loops it into the house, along with a new layer of dust. A metre-deep hole materializes at the doorstep, just outside the front door. RADEEF is on the march.

Since last Wednesday, a crew of workmen in luminescent vests has been chipping and shoveling its way through the neighborhood, spiraling outward from the small square nearby. The men from CAPEP (Construction Assainissement Plomberie Eau Potable) are carrying out RADEEF’s project to upgrade the lines piping drinking water into the Fez Medina. They’ve been at it since the beginning of July, and have five months to go before conversion from the old water delivery system to the new can begin. That process is envisioned to take approximately three months.

In all, 76 workers are employed on the project, shepherded by Fassi site manager Khalid Naji and managed in coordination with an engineering supervisor in Casablanca. By the time they’re done, 24 kilometres of new canalization will be in place under the Medina’s pedestrian streets. Once all the piping is in place, CAPEP crews will return, and moving from house to house, dig down to the new pipes, disconnect water meters from the old system, and connect them to the new one.

Working in ten-metre increments over two days, the crew removes paving stones, digs a channel for new pipes, fits them in and buries them. On the second day, paving stones are re-laid, and the crew moves on. Depending on how many homes will connect to the delivery system at any given location, the pipes used range from eight to twenty centimeters in width. When it’s time to cut the pipes to length, a generator powering the electric grinder ramps up, and adds its whir, along with the fragrance of gasoline, to the mix.

The process is tedious for the crew, working in streets at times less than one meter wide. Mr. Naji says they’re doing their best to allow continued pedestrian traffic through the narrow passageways, but inconvenience is inevitable. Some of the narrower streets have to be barricaded, stopping through traffic altogether. On our street, the trench was on one side, and the mound of excavated dirt on the other. Workers have been attentive to passersby, helping them navigate the worksite, lending a hand and passing shopping bags along to the other side.

Click images to enlarge
 This project is just one of the urban renewal initiatives in the works for the Medina under the auspices of RADEEF. Replacement of the Medina’s antiquated sewage system is also planned, as reported earlier.

Story: Anita Breland
Photographs: Tom Fakler

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1 comment:

Saida & Richard said...

Hard to know where to start this. Same problem as RADEEF had. Let's just say that in the Bab Guissa area 'work' and the disruption to life in the hood has been continuous for three years. Interesting to note that this stage of the project will end and then the old pipes will be taken up 'from house to house'! Eagerly anticipated is the next stage, the replacement of the sewage system which will take as long but smell much worse. Once again logic and foresight is left behind when it comes to awarding contracts or indeed having the slightest overview of how a difficult engineering project can bring different disciplines together within a workable timeframe. I hardly think that RADEEF is on the march. RADEEF is along way from the end of the tunnel and, as yet, there's no light to be seen.