Monday, February 22, 2016

Marrakech Gets A Much Needed Toilet Break!

The two most frequent complaints by visitors to the Marrakech Medina are "too many motorbikes and too few toilets". Though nobody disputes the danger and pollution caused by motorbikes, there appears to be no political will to ban them anytime soon. Toilets, however, are another story...

The very few public toilets of Marrakech are described by both locals and tourists as disgusting and the lack of toilets near tourist sites is a real headache for tour operators
"Although there are public amenities in the red city, they are in a filthy state and unusable" - L'Economiste
Public toilets in Marrakech "filthy and unusable"

Now, at last, the toilet situation may be about to change.

The news came with a headline one might not expect to see - but is nevertheless welcome: 8,5 millions de DH pour des pauses pipi - (8.5 million DH for pee breaks).

According to a story in L'Economiste, the most frequented tourists locations have been identified and the Marrakech Council will commence the project of public toilets with the rehabilitation of 60 latrines.

Additionally, the private sector is involved in the construction of seventeen toilets through the enterprise of a Moroccan resident in the Netherlands. Mustapha Chraou has been inspired by a concept that has been a hit in Europe - Darlodo (which literally means hygiene house) - a health shop and toilet complex.

Apart from pay toilets at a price of 5 DH, each site includes space for ablutions and a sales counter for hygiene products.

"In Marrakech, Darlodo's mission will be to improve and standardise the level of the health service with standards that meet health and the environment requirements," says Mustafa Chraou.

With an investment of 8.5 million DH, the company is committed to the creation of seventeen shops each of which will employ a dozen people. The first to open will be in places most visited by tourists, squares, gardens and boulevards. Two prototypes are being built: the first is located at the Place Moulay El Yazid and the second at the Koutoubia Esplanade.

Female toilets
Male toilets

Last Tuesday(February 23) Darlodo opened its first store at Moulay El Yazid. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Tourism, Lahcen Haddad and the Wali of Marrakech Mohamed Moufakkir.

The toilet project will also be a new resource to improve the revenue of the city. But this is not the first concern of those responsible. "What interests us most is to make this service available and manage it effectively by professionals," says an adviser.

For Chraou, the experience of Marrakech is a first step in this project he hopes to expand to other cities in Morocco. In the medium term, Darlodo wants to establish 150 sites throughout Morocco by 2020.

The installation of public toilets at tourist sites is one of the main projects of the charter tourist cities, presented in December 2015 by the Ministry of Tourism. And because, according to a survey of 10,000 tourists prepared by the international consulting firm TNS Sofres on behalf of the Tourism Observatory, the lack of toilets in public places, even in the most important tourist sites, is a major cause of dissatisfaction for tourists visiting Morocco.

Things are not so advanced for those in Casablanca, where mobile toilets will soon be installed to address the lack of public facilities. An agreement was recently signed between the district of Sidi Belyout and a company working in the field. The city plans for the redevelopment of fourteen public toilets, including seven in the town of Sidi Belyout.

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