Parking keepers in Morocco

By Stephen Addison
This item appears on page 14 of the February 2019 issue.

I cannot verify any of the following from another source (not even Google). My only evidence is what I observed during a May 2018 trip to Morocco and what our private guide told my wife, Paula, and me.

As in much of the world, parking in Morocco's towns and city centers is challenging. In response, Morocco has implemented a creative program in which local governments contract with private firms to place "parking keepers" on the streets. This benefits people needing to park, generates income from parking and provides jobs for unemployed seniors.

Each parking keeper is responsible for a designated area. Each pays a fixed amount per day and gets to keep a percentage of anything over that amount. (It's my understanding that they pay the organization that manages the program for the city.)

Paula and I employed many parking keepers in various cities and towns throughout Morocco. All were elderly men wearing bright-orange vests. Once we indicated that we needed a parking space, the gentleman would direct us to a nearby spot and guide our car into it. Afterward, we would pay him a tip/fee in cash (or, rather, our guide would*).

If we handed them our empty water bottles, they would dispose of them. Upon request (and more cash), they would wash our vehicle's windshield or even the entire car. While we were away, they would protect our car and its contents. When we returned, they assisted us in exiting our parking place. (Parking was often tightly packed.)

This is a terrific system! We didn't have to worry about finding a place to park or worry about anything happening to our vehicle when it was unoccupied. More importantly, it provides income to unemployed seniors who are struggling to get by.

We received more value from the parking keepers in Morocco than we get when we pay for parking (usually with a phone app) in our hometown of Charlotte.

Charlotte, NC

* The Addisons' guide, Abdellah El Harras (Dec. '18, pg. 36), told ITN, "Parking keepers charge 10 to 12 dirham (near $1-$1.25 ) for two hours, depending on the location."