Wallowing in filth…

…is what Casablanca taxi drivers, or at least most of them, seem to do all day.

There are four types of taxis.

The least bad are the 1980s and 1990s Mercs that collect people from outside hotels. They are usually cleanish inside.

The airport taxis, which have recently had a massive upgrade from dirty 1970s and early 80s Merc 200s to 90s 190s. They are ok on the outside, pretty dirty on the inside.

The white Mercedes taxis which follow a vague route and stop to pick people up. These are 70s and 80s models and usually sit three in the front and four in the back. I have never taken one, but they look dirty inside and, whilst they are clean-ish on the out, they all seem to be about to fall apart.

The ‘petits taxis’, usually 1990s 205s, Puntos and, recently new Dacias. The new Dacias are too new to be that bad and are the result of the government offering subsidies to the drivers of particularly crappy cars to buy new ones. There are still tonnes of older petits taxis on the road though. I believe the Dacias are made locally in a huge new plant opened by Renault.

What amazes me is how the worst of the taxis are so unbelievably filthy. I can, almost, understand why you might not bother to fix your brakes, replace your tires and generally maintain your car, but what is stopping these guys even wiping the interior down with a damp cloth at least once a week? The cars look like someone has emptied a hoover bag into them. They are ashtrays on wheels.

Yuck.

Mr Mouhamed was singing the praises of his 1984 Mercedes 240. I asked him how many kilometres he had done, which caused lots of wheezy laughing and an admission that the odometer had stopped working years ago. The interior had all been replaced – probably about 15 years ago – with plastic seats and new door linings. He also had a solid wooden steering wheel. Whilst midway through his eulogy to this easily reparable, electronics free vehicle, he bent his head down to kiss the steering wheel, accidentally touched the brakes and bumped his nose.

This didn’t stop his effusive praise – this car is still worth $6,000 – more than a mid 90s Merc with more electronics that render it unrepairable, or at least more unreliable and more costly to maintain, the older it gets.

I was pleased to notice that the old Series III Land Rover SWB rescue trucks are all still going, most freshly painted in bright orange.

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