A new road and tunnel link is being proposed for Morocco to connect Marrakech with Ouarzazate. The project would also include the construction of roads and bridges.
The Mohammed VI Fund for Investment was established in 2020 with an initial US$1.45 billion to spearhead the country’s COVID-19 recovery. The fund’s core mandate is to provide local businesses and strategic infrastructure projects with long-term financing in the form of equity or quasi-equity. It focuses its lending on high-potential small and medium-sized enterprises, promotes the financing of commercially sustainable infrastructure work such the proposed Tichka Tunnel and develops strategic sectors which can help economic recover.
Constructing a Tichka Tunnel, often called the Marrakech-Ouarzazate Tunnel, has been mooted since 1945 or so but will be challenging, given the isolation of the region and the geology. Tizi n'Tichka is a mountain pass linking the south-east of Marrakesh to the city of Ouarzazat through the High Atlas mountains – stunningly beautiful but inhospitable. It lies above the great Marrakesh plains and is a gateway to the Sahara Desert.
According to French geotechnical engineering specialist Terrasol, which did a geological survey of alternative routes between 2004 and 2008, there are two options. Option A is a short tunnel with a gentle slope, whereas alternative solution B has a much better geological context and allows construction of a tunnel with an intermediate decline.
Option A, with a cost of around $684 million, is for a 5.5km tunnel and requires the development of 8.5km of roads and construction of a bridge. Option B is for a 10km tunnel at a cost of $988 million and requires development of 80km of roads and construction of 10 bridges.
Option B – the preferred option – passes through Ourika, a town in the Al Haouz province in the Marrakech Tensift El Haouz region.