Relief in Melillia and Nador after the reopening of the Bni Nsar crossing point

In Bni Nsar, the crossing point with the town of Melilia has reopened after two years of closure. The Médias24 team went there to find the same images as in Bab Sebta: inhabitants happy to once again have the possibility of going more easily, by land, to the other side. The closure had been decided after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the aim of limiting its spread. However, it remained in force even after the borders reopened to international flights. It was not until the Moroccan-Spanish reconciliation that the opening of the Bab Sebta and Bni Nsar crossing points was announced. As planned by the Moroccan authorities, the opening took place on the night of May 16 to 17. According to information collected from local authorities, travelers flocked to the crossing point that night, in both directions, but especially from Melilia towards Nador. Indeed, between the two cities, the links are particularly strong. Many of the residents of Melilia whom we met went to visit their families, most of whom they had not seen for more than two years. The emotion on the faces was palpable and the relief evident. These inhabitants of Melilia were quick to resume their old habits, such as shopping for fruit and vegetables in Nador and its surroundings, where prices are cheaper. They hope to be able to go back and forth more often, except for the queue and the formalities of passage which take time, especially on the side of the Spanish authorities, as several travelers have told us. However, residents of Nador and surrounding areas can no longer cross to the other side with just their Moroccan passports, as they used to before. To cross the crossing point, a visa is now essential, and several Nadoris had to turn back, disappointed. This opening is nevertheless welcomed with great relief by the neighboring towns of Nador, Bni Nsar and Zghanghan. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, traders and taxi drivers hope that it will be the prelude to a successful summer tourist season. Because apart from the inhabitants of Melilia, Moroccans residing abroad, some of whom prefer to go through the port of Melilia to stay in Morocco during their holidays, also contribute to the economy of the region, particularly during the summer. The reopening of the crossing point only concerns people, goods being excluded. In Nador as in Fnideq, smuggling has been completely curbed, concordant testimonies confirm. Thanks to the efforts made by the local authorities, private investments have taken place in this area, employing a considerable number of people who were previously involved in this illicit trade. Especially since with major projects such as that of the Nador West Med port, under construction, there is great hope that the region will experience the same industrial fate as that of Tangier, so that it is no longer dependent on smuggling. We will return to these topics with other articles in the days to come.