Thursday, 18 May 2023, 14:01
The first preparatory meeting has already taken place, and the process will continue in the coming weeks with the meeting in Madrid of the Hispano-Moroccan Joint Commission The month of June brings with it the start of Operación Paso del Estrecho (OPE), the largest operation at European level that allows the passage by sea of millions of people and vehicles from Europe to Africa and which has been carried out since 1986 and connects ports such as ferry Algeciras to Ceuta.This year, the operation is expected to be implemented, as usual, with safety and fluidity to ensure that everything runs smoothly and without incident.
The main goal of Operación Paso del Estrecho is to facilitate the massive flow of vehicles and travellers to Morocco and other African destinations. The Strait of Gibraltar is one of the most important routes in the world, used by millions of people every year. For this reason, this mechanism is essential to ensure both the correct transit of travellers and the well-being of the citizens of the towns near the ports.
In 2022, a total of 2,912,283 passengers and 695,487 vehicles crossed the Strait smoothly thanks to the coordination between the different authorities involved to guarantee the correct transit of traffic in the ports and on the roads. In figures, a total of 349,735 vehicles and
1,430,340 passengers crossed the Strait during the departure phase, mainly concentrated in the last days of June and the first days of July, due to the celebration of the Day of Sacrifice, an important Muslim festival held on 9 July. The phase ended without any incidents.
With regard to the ports of departure for crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, Algeciras, with 870,109 passengers, is the one with the greatest registered traffic, a long way ahead of the rest of the ports used for transit through the Strait of Gibraltar. The Moroccan ports were the destination for 62 percent of the passengers, while Ceuta received 23 percent of the trips and Melilla 12 percent.
Forecasts for 2023
This year, the operation is expected to be implemented again with great efficiency thanks to the experience acquired over the years and the protocols established to guarantee the safety of travellers and the transit area. The authorities have also announced that measures have
been taken to improve coordination between the different entities involved in the operation, such as the Guardia Civil, the National Police, the Port Authority and the Red Cross.
The first preparatory meeting for the OPE 2023 has already taken place, and the process will continue in the coming weeks with the meeting in Madrid of the Hispano-Moroccan Joint Commission.
Abselam Abdel Lah Abdeselam, coordinator of the OPE 2023, stressed that "this is the first of many meetings that will be held in the coming weeks to ensure, for yet another year, that we have a smooth and incident-free operation".
As in previous years, it will cover a mechanism that includes fleet plans, provincial coordination plans and plans for each of the ports involved, including Algeciras and Tarifa, as well as road safety plans. In addition, it has been announced that the capacity of the ports has been
increased to receive travellers and measures have been established to reduce queuing times.
This year, Operación Paso del Estrecho is expected to allow the passage by sea of more than 3 million people and more than 760,000 vehicles from Europe to Africa. These numbers are similar to previous years, showing the importance of the operation in ensuring the mobility of millions of people each year.
Operación Paso del Estrecho is fundamental for the economy of the regions involved in the operation, as the flow of travellers and vehicles generates employment and financial movement. In addition, the operation is essential to ensure the mobility of migrant communities who use this route to visit their families and friends.
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