Operation Marhaba- Crossing the Strait: more than 70,000 Moroccans arrive during first weekend

With fluid traffic and without incidents, the first Moroccans arrive on ferries from the ports of Algeciras, Almeria, Motril, Malaga and Seville
Operación Marhaba-Paso del Estrecho 2024 <strong>- PHOTO/@interiorgob</strong>
Operation Marhaba-Strait Passage 2024 - PHOTO/@interiorgob
  1. Satisfaction in all the ports of Spain

First weekend of Operation Marhaba- Crossing the Strait 2024 (OPE) and more than 70,000 people and 14,000 vehicles have crossed the Strait towards Morocco. 8 days have been enough for more than 150 ferries to cross the Strait. On the first day of the OPE alone, up to 14,286 tourists and 4,201 vehicles left for Africa from one of the five Andalusian ports already in operation, with Algeciras being the port with the highest traffic, with 8,807 passengers and 2,943 vehicles. 

Operación Marhaba-Paso del Estrecho 2024 <strong>- PHOTO/@interiorgob</strong>
Operation Marhaba-Strait Crossing 2024 - PHOTO/@interiorgob

The Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, visited the Operation Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar (OPE) 2024 which is taking place in the port of Algeciras. During the visit, he spoke with police officers at the border crossing point and with civil protection agents assigned to the centre. Last weekend, the first major traffic jam, the number of tourists increased by 90% and the number of vehicles increased by 120%: some 14,000 vehicles and 70,000 people more than the same period last year. 

This increase is a result of this year's 17 June celebration of the so-called Feast of Sacrifice, which is of great importance to the Muslim community. The minister praised the work of the various ministries involved in the operation, highlighting the Fleet Plan created to guarantee the safe evacuation of thousands of North Africans entering North Africa through the seven ports participating in the operation. In particular, he stressed the importance of the ports of Algeciras and Tarifa, which concentrate 70% of the traffic during the three months of the OPE. 

Rutas de los Ferris que van desde la provincia de Cádiz hasta Marruecos <strong>- PHOTO/@PuertoAlgeciras</strong>
Ferry routes from the province of Cádiz to Morocco - PHOTO/@PuertoAlgeciras

In turn, the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) set up two rest areas and seven information points, all of them with signage and personnel. In addition, the Border Information System was set up, which includes 674 panels with various contents and 1,861 cameras, which allow the time and speed of vehicles arriving at the ports to be predicted in advance. These measures have been complemented by the web application: Passajero, available for Android and IOS in which all the necessary information on the OPE can be obtained. 

The Ministry of the Interior said that 18 shipping lines and seven companies are participating in the Fleet Plan, which aims to speed up travel between continents with 32 ships carrying people and vehicles.

Operación Marhaba-Paso del Estrecho 2024 <strong>- PHOTO/@interiorgob</strong>
Operation Marhaba-Strait Crossing 2024 - PHOTO/@interiorgob

Satisfaction in all the ports of Spain

Grande-Marlaska also mentioned that the number of concessionaires participating in OPE 2024 increased by 6% compared with the previous edition. This increase was possible thanks to the Government's public call to compensate for the shortage of agents inherited by the head of Pedro Sánchez's Executive. As for weekend traffic, despite this year's "first big boom", it remains normal. The key period of the OPE 2024 is expected to take place from 2 to 4 August, when tourist and vehicle traffic is expected to increase significantly. 

As of today, Monday, five of the nine Spanish ports that make up OPE are operational, five of them Andalusian, all of them operational and of these five "Algeciras in particular is the port with the highest rate of road traffic". 

Señalización del Puerto de Algeciras <strong>- PHOTO/@PuertoAlgeciras</strong>
Signposting of the Port of Algeciras - PHOTO/@PuertoAlgeciras

The General Director of Civil Protection, Virginia Barcones, highlighted in Ceuta the "significant improvements" of the OPE carried out on the second day of operations. Together with the state coordinator of the OPE, Benjamín Salvago, she reported that the waiting time for vehicles "does not exceed 30 minutes" and is growing "within completely normal limits". 

Barcones arrived at the Tarajal border to follow "the same route as every citizen passing through Ceuta during the OPE" and, together with the Government delegate in Ceuta, Cristina Pérez, appeared before the media. The president thanked them for their cooperation in preparing the operation. He added: "Fulfilling its functions perfectly, it communicates all of Ceuta's needs to better welcome all those who pass through the city to reach Morocco and intervene as little as possible in the life of the local population". 

Operación Marhaba-Paso del Estrecho 2024 <strong>- PHOTO/@puertodemotril</strong>
Operation Marhaba-Strait Crossing 2024 - PHOTO/@puertodemotril

The president promised that "due to the requests of the delegates", the OPE 2024 will be better than on previous occasions. And all this thanks to "a very important investment of around 5 million euros", which, he assured, "will mean an improvement in the quality of work and of the ports within a year" thanks to the installation of the long-term infrastructure that will remain in the port area of the city once the OPE has been approved. 

Barcones predicts that the number of vehicles using OPE will increase "by 6%" and the number of people "will increase by 4%". She believes that this year they will reach a "new all-time high" and affirms that "when we see growth, there is a tendency to count more cars than people and that comes from looking for more comfort". 

Operación Marhaba-Paso del Estrecho 2024 <strong>- PHOTO/@puertodemotril</strong>
Operation Marhaba-Strait Crossing 2024 - PHOTO/@puertodemotril

The Port Authority of the Bay of Algeciras (APBA) expressed its satisfaction with the evolution of the first weekend of operation, as well as with the functioning of the equipment installed for the control and security of traffic in both ports. Moreover, it has started up its annual installation on the occasion of the OPE in the Cadiz ports of Algeciras and Tarifa and will employ more than 750 people. In addition to the permanent staff, there are also temporary staff, such as OPE deputies and informants, to complement the reinforced port police force. ​