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File image of cars queueing to catch a ferry as part of Operation Crossing the Strait. EFE
Operation Crossing the Strait: Spanish ferry ports set to handle another record-breaking exodus of Morrocans working in Europe returning home for summer
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Operation Crossing the Strait: Spanish ferry ports set to handle another record-breaking exodus of Morrocans working in Europe returning home for summer

Forecasts suggest an increase of 6% in the number of vehicles and 4% in passengers passing through the five Andalusian ports participating in this massive operation: Algeciras, Tarifa, Malaga, Motril and Almeria

La Voz

Cadiz

Sunday, 9 June 2024, 20:34

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The Spanish government's regional delegate for Andalucía, Pedro Fernández, held a meeting last week with the Director General of Civil Protection and Emergencies, Virginia Barcones, to coordinate the various bodies involved in Operation Crossing the Strait - OPE-2024, which will commence on 13 June and run until 15 September. This year the forecasts suggest an increase of 6% in the number of vehicles and 4% in passengers passing through the five Andalusian ports participating in this operation: Algeciras, Tarifa, Malaga, Motril and Almeria.

After the meeting, Fernández explained that last year's port crossings registered a total of 3.14 million passengers, some 755,637 vehicles and 11,012 turnarounds (loading and offloading of each passenger ferry). He highlighted that it was "a record-breaking year for vehicles,... although this year's exodus is expected to exceed that figure, setting a new record." This is expected especially in the port of Tarifa, which foresees the highest growth, and Algeciras, "where almost 60% of passengers and 63% of vehicles are expected."

"Of the nine national ports participating in the operation, Andalucía plays a special role, as 97% of the passengers and vehicles leave or enter from our region" travelling down from all over the country. This makes it necessary to have "a system that year after year meets expectations perfectly, responding to the needs of those travelling to the Maghreb to keep on the move and be well-attended during the holiday period."

Fernández mentioned a new feature for this year being the improved passenger information system at rest stops, where useful information will be available in three languages.

Road safety

As for Spain's Directorate of Traffic roads authority (DGT) special arrangements for OPE 2024, "and in order to guarantee the safety of all users of the national road network, the presence of traffic officers will be increased on all roads, where they will pay special attention and assistance to vehicles with foreign number plates and specifically to North African-plated vehicles heading towards the border ports along the routes that depart from Irún or La Junquera towards Algeciras, Malaga and Almería.

All traffic flows will be monitored by 492 CCTV cameras and 446 data collection stations connected throughout the Andalusian road network. In addition, 509 variable message panels will inform all drivers of all major traffic incidents and any new developments.

The DGT will also have two helicopters, four drones for traffic regulation and management (two with the capacity to capture infractions and issue automated fines), mobile radars and unmarked vans, 154 speed control radars and 71 mobile and seat-belt cameras.

From their 24/7 traffic management centres based in Malaga and Seville, a special service will be provided throughout this travel period with more than 60 officials and specialised technical personnel attending to the tasks of supervision, regulation and information, increasing their presence in Algeciras port during the most critical days with a greater influx of passengers and vehicles.

The start of OPE has been brought forward this year to 13 June, two days earlier than usual, in anticipation of the increase in traffic movements that occur before the Feast of the Lamb, which will be celebrated on 17 June in Morocco. The operation will end on 15 September and will be divided, as in previous years, into a Departure Phase and a Return Phase, as this is not just an exodus of people - they return.

For the duration of OPE 2024, Spain has set up security and policing forces amounting to 26,100 National Police and Guardia Civil officers, boosted by an additional 789 officers.

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