Nicolas Sarkozy heads to Morocco for launch of TGV rail link

by Alister POOLE on September 30, 2011

French President Nicholas Sarkozy headed to Morocco today in order to oversee the beginning of construction on the new TGV rail link in the country.

When completed, the line will be able to connect Casablanca to Rabat and Tangiers in less time than it currently takes. An agreement between Sarkozy’s France and Morocco to construct the line was penned during the president’s first official visit to the north African country in October 2007.

According to sources, the project’s budget stands around $4bn and the new trains will start running by 2015. Morocco’s government says the project is going to further enhance already-strong economic relations between his country and France.

Officials hope that the 350km rail link will also boost infrastructure. On the other hand though, Morocco’s ex-finance minister Mohamed Berrada has said that the project is nothing other than a waste of money that should go on more pressing issues like fighting high illiteracy rates and widespread poverty across the nation.

Morocco was forced to borrow around $2bn from French banks, as well as Saudi Arabian development funds, in order to get the project running and see that it is finished successfully. Karim Tazi, a Moroccoan sociologist, has predicted that the rest of the money that has been borrowed will be paid off by struggling future generations. In addition, analysts continue to question whether it is really worth the country going into more debt just to reduce train times between Tangiers to Casablanca down from five hours to just more than two hours.

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