Like many other countries across the world, Morocco was affected by an unprecedented economic and social crisis in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During this crisis, road transport companies across all sectors played a critical role in moving goods, supporting the operation of supply chains, repatriating citizens and transporting people to their workplace, all while increasing the risk to their employees’ health and well-being.
However, the effects of the crisis were quickly felt and impacted several sectors, including transport and logistics, which experienced significant challenges.
Road passenger transport has been particularly hard hit by the virus, especially when one considers the lockdown measures, restrictions on movement, protective measures, the fact that transport seems to be a major factor in transmission of the virus and the speed with which the virus spreads. In fact, the measures taken by the Moroccan authorities, particularly the health authorities, to contain the spread of the virus since the first cases of Covid-19 appeared in March 2020 have had dramatic repercussions on the profitability of public and private passenger transport companies, especially as a result of the complete shutdown of public passenger and tourist transport.
Nevertheless, freight transport companies were affected to a lesser extent, in part due to the collective efforts of the authorities and professionals in the sector to ensure the continuity of freight operations. However, the crisis has not affected all freight transport companies to the same degree. Suppliers in certain sectors under particular strain (food, refrigeration, essential products, courier, etc.) were highly productive, while others came to a virtual standstill. This situation was the result of the transport sector’s high dependence on its client industries (shippers and contractors), which experienced a slowdown or partial or total suspension of operations, and the increase in demand for essential products, which gave rise to situations that were sometimes difficult to manage (flow imbalances, non-guaranteed loading rates, empty returns, adjustment of transport plans, etc.).
Admittedly, the Covid-19 crisis has had a huge, unprecedented impact on mobility operations and transport systems, but it has also exposed the weaknesses and structural failings in the Moroccan sector.
Although it is somewhat premature to draw definitive conclusions and lessons for the transport sector, one thing is certain: this health crisis marks a “before” and an “after” for the sector. It will give rise to a new context in which the transport sector will be forced to consider new ways of adapting and evolving to meet future challenges and be better prepared to strengthen its resilience and face a future marked by uncertainty.