In the past ten years, the construction boom in Morocco has made some people forget the importance of protecting nature and the environment. Sand, an essential material for making concrete, is now undergoing so much illegal extraction that even entire beaches have disappeared. Thousands of people in the country make their living this way, armed with shovels and accompanied by basket-laden donkeys, removing sand from beaches every day for six euros a day.
With the increase in construction in Morocco, sand has become a valuable raw material that little by little begins to disappear from beaches all over the country. Being an essential component of concrete production, the illegal and unregulated exploitation of sand is a problem that negatively affects the environment and the preservation of natural resources.
The illegal trade in sand is protected in high places. For geologist Aisha bin Mohammedi, sand is a capital that means a lot of money in all countries. “I think the sand is a capital, there is a submerged trade that accounts for 55% of the total sand that spreads in Morocco,” says the sand expert.
But this sand mafia not only affects the environment but also poses huge risks in the buildings that use this sand in their construction. Concrete that is made from sand from beaches must comply with all safety requirements, but due to the high amounts of sodium in it, its durability is affected, causing the frames of the structure to oxidize, cracks or even collapse. According to the National Confederation of Construction, every year around 60,000 accidents occur on construction sites in Morocco, most of them due to the collapse of concrete structures.
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