Wide Angle

Can the port of Lamhiriz be a temporary solution to the recurrent blockades of Guerguerate ?

While waiting for the construction of the large port of Dakhla Atlantique, the port of Lamhiriz, located only 65 km from El Guerguerate, could constitute a solution to the recurrent blockades of the Guerguerate border crossing.

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Members of the Polisario’s leadership held, Monday, a meeting to discuss the launch of the «great blockade of the Guerguerate border crossing». Accompanying measures for those responsible for carrying out the operation were stopped, in particular with the dispatch of soldiers in civilian clothes to supervise the demonstrators who are already in no man's land, with their tents and banners.

A few weeks before the adoption of a new resolution on Western Sahara, the Front seems determined to make this new blockage another Gdeim Izik.

Faced with such a scenario, Morocco has political and economic cards to show. The Kingdom can, in fact, count on the support of the UN secretary general and the Security Council. On April 28, 2017, the Security Council had forced the Polisario to withdraw its militias which had been blocking the border crossing since August 14, 2016.

There is also the factor of economic stability. A long blockage of El Guerguerate will deprive the Mauritanian market of its main supplier of fruits, vegetables and other household appliances, especially as the Zouirat-Tindouf border crossing, inaugurated in August 2018 by Algerian and Mauritanian officials, is in decline and cannot act as an alternative.

It also remains to be seen whether the Polisario is capable of sacrificing the interests of its allies in Nouakchott on the altar of its own political calculations. 

The port of Lamhiriz, a temporary solution

The Lamhiriz fishing port, located 300 km from Dakhla and only 65 km from El Guerguerate, could provide a temporary solution to the problems of recurring blockages. An alternative which arises while waiting for the construction of the great port of Dakhla Atlantique.

On May 20, 2019, the Minister of Equipment, Transport and Logistics, Abdelkader Amara, affirmed, in response to a written question from a Sahrawi deputy from the province of Aoussered, that the work has been completed. Spanish and Portuguese companies have, moreover, been involved in dredging operations.

The opening of this port seems imminent. Calls for tenders were launched in May by the National Ports Agency (ANP) to construct the project.

The port of Lamhiriz is able to respond to proposals made by Spanish shipowners, in particular from the region of Galicia who fish in Mauritanian waters. To avoid blockages for days in El Guerguerate, they had requested, in summer 2019 from the European Commission, the authorization to land the catches in a Moroccan port.

This port is intended to revive Aoussered, once an important passage between Morocco and Mauritania. 

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