Embroiled in a dispute with Spain over the territory of Western Sahara, Morocco upheld the blockade between some of the largest ports on the Mediterranean for over two years.
The busy, but short, 14-kilometre (nine-mile) route across the Strait of Gibraltar had originally been shut in March 2020 when Morocco severed transport links with Europe over the Covid-19 pandemic.
The maritime borders reopened last summer — but connections between Tangiers and Spain’s Algeciras and Tarifa ports have remained cut.
“Shipping companies will gradually resume their passenger services between the Moroccan ports of Tangier Med and Tangier-City and the Spanish ports of Algeciras and Tarifa,” the transport ministry said in a statement.
While passenger and shipping traffic is scheduled to resume on Tuesday, motorists will have to wait until April 18.
In March, Spain and Morocco began repairing diplomatic ties after Madrid ended a decades-long stance of neutrality over the disputed territory of Western Sahara and agreed to publicly support Rabat’s autonomy plan for the region.
After Spanish colonial forces withdrew in 1975, Morocco fought a bitter war with the Polisario independence movement before reaching a ceasefire in 1991, on the promise of a referendum on self-determination.
But in November 2020, the Polisario declared the ceasefire null and void after Morocco sent in troops to forcibly reopen a highway running through Western Sahara to neighbouring Mauritania.
Spain’s decision to recognise Morocco’s claims to the territory infuriated regional rival Algeria, which has long backed the Polisario and also supplies large quantities of natural gas to Spain.