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A new life for the industrial zone?
In Guido’s last issue, we did mention the various projects that the Town Council intended to implement, including that of the urban renovation of the industrial zone which is destined to become a tourist area and to be transformed into a residential area.
In the days of Essaouira the Prosperous, the industrial zone was the economic centre of the town. In this very area, the tanners from the famous Jean Carel’s tannery designed jackets, bags and other objects in leather. Right beside it, the tin factory workers artistically laid out large quantities of sardines fished by the local fishermen into their tins. Craftwork and industry mixed well and made up the prosperity and the fame of the city of the trade winds.
Nowadays reality strikes hard in the industrial zone and today this industrial vibrancy is but a beautiful vanishing dream. Most factories are dilapidated and 27 units are in an advance state of ruin. Only two or three tin factories are still in activity and a few traders are concentrated in this part of town like mechanics, wood, mineral water and gas wholesalers as well as carpenters a little bit further in the adjoining streets.
The flour mill, situated beside the newly set up supermarket in the area named Scala at the end of town, is still in activity.
To this industrial decline, one may add an advanced sate of dilapidation of the urban living spaces and of now antiquated basic infrastructures such as the sewage system that is subject to numerous faults or the refuse collections which need to be put to standard. Standing there, one can but notice bitterly that it is a place that has been totally abandoned. The most impoverished population comes and goes searching the ruins of the factories for some old still usable objects, other families in acute need have found shelter in the old factories: the people in authority are not impervious to this situation.
For many years already the old industrial area has been the object of debates within the regional and local councils but no integrated solution was found because of a real estate problem in particular. But today things are moving ….for good! So the saying goes!
Indeed, the Urban Agency is putting the last touches to a report on the rehabilitation of the industrial area: its main objective being an upgrading of the area in its urban, social and economic dimensions. A preliminary report from the Agency indicates:
“It is not a rehabilitation urban plan nor a rehabilitation plan, but rather a global approach which takes into account the various characteristics of the area: its strategic location in the town as well as the role it could have in the enhancement of the whole town of Essaouira.”
The long term objective would be to transform this area into a residential area. The factories still in activity would therefore be transferred to a new industrial zone. Once this move accomplished, clearly defining the functional identity of this area would be at stake in as much as it occupies a strategic place at the foot of the Medina with rich sites and staggering views of the sea. The report plans, in particular, to link this area with the rest of the town, to develop its touristic potential and to schedule a range of living spaces which could welcome a big number of people. The setting up of social and cultural services in order to create a balance between various animations and to make this area a very attractive place would also be part of it.
A new industrial zone? Will Essaouira have its new industrial zone? One reliable source told us that the project is right on track. Even though it is still at the early stages, one already knows that it will be led by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (CCIS), in partnership with the regional delegation of Commerce and Industry and with the support of the provincial and local authorities. Moreover, one knows that this new zone would be situated on the Safi road and would accommodate the transfer of Essaouira factories still at work as well as some craftwork activities.