News Archive from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week January 24 to January 30
MOBILE MAST DISPUTE ESCALATES
Court orders removal of Mijas telephone antenna
By David Eade
MÁLAGA'S PROVINCIAL HEAD OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSPECTIONS HAS ISSUED A STATEMENT THAT THE 3,000 TELEPHONE MASTS IN MÁLAGA CITY AND PROVINCE ARE PROPERLY CONTROLLED IN AN EFFORT TO REASSURE PUBLIC CONCERN OVER CANCER RISKS.
The statement also claims radiation limits permitted are below those declared acceptable by the authorities. The Inspectorate adds that in the past year there have been 100 official complaints about radiation levels from various antennae; in all cases the concerns have proved to be unfounded.
A team of inspectors has visited the El Fuerte antenna in Ronda. This mast is close to three educational institutions which have reported 12 cases of cancer among teachers and pupils, plus four tumour related deaths in recent years. Last year, teachers and parents organised a private test of radiation levels, which were shown to be 80 times the norm established by the Salzburg Conference.
However the team from the Inspectorate of Telecommunications contradicted those findings. It reported that radiation levels at the El Fuerte site are 20 times lower than the acceptable rate. They also found that the Telefónica transmitter did not have the highest electromagnetic radiation output, that dubious honour went to an illegal radio station using the same mast.
TORREMOLINOS MAST AUDIT
Despite the reassurances, Mayor of Torremolinos Pedro Fernández Montes is to undertake an audit of local mobile telephone masts. He said the majority of the installations were private contracts between communities of property owners and telephone companies.
The Izquierda Unida party had petitioned the Mayor to bring in a municipal ordinance to control the antennae in Torremolinos. However Fernández Montes has rejected the plea, claiming it is better to wait until regional government sets a norm rather than each town hall introducing legislation.
The province will shortly have one less mobile telephone antenna. Andalucía's High Court has ruled that an installation in Mijas Pueblo must be removed. The antenna is in the Avenida del Compás and was the target of an official complaint by Mijas Town Hall in 1999 because it does not have a municipal licence. The antenna, owned by Telefónica, must be removed within 10 days.
SABOTAGE ON FUENGIROLA TO MÁLAGA LINE
By David Eade
Train services on the busy Málaga to Fuengirola line were brought to a standstill after an electricity power supply cut. The train company Renfe says the cut in services lasted four hours and 3,000 passengers were affected. Apart from the local trains, the Talgo 200 high speed express to Madrid was also delayed, leaving Fuengirola 40 minutes late.
The electricity supply cable was damaged at a point between Torremuelle and Carvajal in the municipality of Fuengirola. The cut in the power supply was detected at 04.30 and the connection was not re-established until 08.05, causing widespread delays to commuters. Trains from Málaga were stopped at Arroyo de la Miel and passengers transported to Fuengirola by bus.
The cut in supply took place on a national day of strikes called by two railway unions nationally and a third locally. Renfe believes the cut in the electricity supply was carried out by people who knew 'to perfection' how the railway services operated. Renfe also pointed out that the cut cable carried three thousand volts of electricity and was sabotaged by somebody who knew the installations very well.
MALAGA HAS BUSIEST ROADS IN SPAIN
But new legislation will slow them down
By Dave Jamieson
ROADS IN MÁLAGA ARE THE THIRD BUSIEST IN SPAIN ACCORDING TO A TRAFFIC DEPARTMENT REPORT FOR LAST YEAR, WHICH ALSO SHOWS 97 LIVES WERE LOST IN ROAD ACCIDENTS IN THE PROVINCE DURING 2001 - AN INCREASE OF 15 PER CENT ON THE PREVIOUS YEAR.
The Department claims excessive speed contributed to 70 per cent of fatal accidents, while pedestrians crossing carriageways illegally were involved in 15 per cent. Alcohol contributed to six per cent, although the number of positive breath tests fell considerably.
However, new traffic laws which came into force on Monday are set to clamp down on speeding motorists. Increased penalties and 300 new speed detection radar units are hoped to reduce the number of speeding offences and accidents. Driving at 50 per cent or more in excess of the limit is now a serious offence, as is carrying in a car more passengers than it was designed for.
Also in the raft of new legislation is a restriction on the age under which children cannot ride as passengers on mopeds or motorcycles. Twelve years is the minimum age unless the driver is the parent or guardian, in which case it is reduced to seven years. Safety helmets must be worn by all riders. Children under 12 may no longer travel in the front seats of cars, unless in an approved safety seat.
CORKING 'EL BOTELLÓN'
New bylaws to tackle nocturnal open-air drinking
By David Jamieson
Weekend gatherings of young people in city centre streets late at night to drink alcohol purchased cheaply from local shops - a practice known as the "botellón" - has been a long-running problem for Málaga residents, complaining of excessive noise and litter. Now the ruling of the High Court of Andalucía, that Sevilla must put an end to the "botellón" on its streets, has prompted calls for a similar obligation to be placed on Málaga Town Hall.
The Junior Red Cross in the province's capital says that this is not the best solution to the problem. Local director Lourdes Fernández suggested it could be counter-productive and called for the city to improve the infrastructure in the centre with cinemas and theatres which young people can visit at a reasonable cost. The Málaga director of the Andaluz Youth Institute agreed that the problem in Sevilla was not comparable with Málaga, where its incidence is much less and where security and violence have not become problems.
For its part, Málaga Town Hall has announced plans to tackle the practice followed in the city each weekend by 36,000 young people aged 15 to 25 - 65 per cent of whom are university students. A new bylaw outlawing the consumption of alcohol in the streets is expected to be in force from next month. The councillor responsible, José Luis Ramos, underlined that this was intended to complement the Junta's new law to control the sale of alcohol from small shops which open at night, claiming that 75 per cent of the alcohol consumed at Málaga's "botellón" was purchased in these establishments.
ESTEPONA'S FEEL OF LUXURY
In recent years, Estepona has been transformed from a town with a few down market hotels to one that boasts a wide selection of luxury complexes. Now the company Sauer, owners of the Kempinski Hotel, has announced it is to invest 32 million euros in two new top-notch developments in the town.
Twenty-six million euros will be spent on a five star apartment hotel which Sauer says will be of great luxury. It will be built adjacent to the existing Kempinski Hotel but will operate independently. The new hotel will be known as the Kempinski Mar Azul.
The Mar Azul will have 53 suites. The building will cover an area of 20,000 square metres and will be surrounded by 14,000 square metres of tropical gardens. It will have a beach club, a restaurant, a bar plus the usual trappings of a luxury complex such as a gymnasium and beauty centre. It should be welcoming guests in the summer of 2004.
A year earlier Sauer's other project, Laguna Village, should also be operational. The company will be investing six million euros in a leisure-commercial centre inspired by Polynesia. It will have four restaurants, a theatre-disco, and twenty shops all set in tropical gardens.
FORD GEARS UP FOR NEW FIESTA
By David Eade
The Ford Motor Company is investing over one million euros in remodelling Estepona's feria ground for the introduction of the new Ford Fiesta. The Town Hall has given over the site to the motor manufacturer, which is carrying out a number of major improvements to location in preparation for the big launch.
Over 140 people are working on the project, which includes asphalting the area and installing transformers and electricity supply cables. The local infrastructure will also benefit. Ford is asphalting a number of roads in Estepona, Casares and Benahavís on which to demonstrate the new car.
The presentation of the new model started on December 10. Hundreds of motoring journalists have been installed in the luxury Kempinski Hotel, whose conference rooms were used to present the new look Fiesta. The media event will finish at the end of this month.
Then it will be the turn of the motor trade. Between February 6 and Easter 18,000 motor dealers from all over Europe will crowd into hotels in Marbella and Estepona. The Ford launch will be one of the biggest corporate events held on the Costa and will buck the trend of USA multinationals to stay at home after the events of September 11.
THE ROUTE OF HASHISH
There has been a drop in the amount of drugs being landed on the beaches between Algeciras and Tarifa due to police activity in the area. Security forces now patrol the beaches and surrounding roads on the look out for illegal immigrants. This has made life very uncomfortable for the local smugglers.
However the police are convinced that a group of drug traffickers in Algeciras have turned to the horse and mule to solve the problem. They believe a new hashish route now runs from Pelayo to Los Pastores across land that is very rough and inaccessible to vehicles.
The horses and mules can carry between 60 and 120 kilos of hashish. They know the route by heart and it doesn't take them long to cover it. For the person who accompanies the animals the risks are light. The Guardia Civil rarely search a horse or mule for drugs.
Journeys end is believed to be where the town of Algeciras meets the country near the Los Pastores football ground. There in total silence and with no lights showing a number of four-wheel drive vehicles await the animals' arrival. It is believed that old farmers are paid 100,000 pesetas a week for the use of their animals.
ON THE ROAD TO NOWHERE
By David Eade
As you drive along the N-340 you might suddenly come across a cycling team wearing the famous colours of iBanesto.com. These celebrated cyclists are currently based on the Costa del Sol for winter road training. They have set up camp at the Andalucía Princess hotel in Estepona where they have entertained members of local cycling clubs.
Amongst the iBanesto.com team are top cycling professionals Chava Jiménez, Lunai Osa and Juan Miguel Mercado. Jiménez told the press that he is training hard to win a stage in this year's Tour de France which to date has evaded him. The team can be seen in Málaga province and on other roads in Andalucía as they gear up for the Vuelta Ciclista a Andalucía 'Ruta del Sol' which takes place next month.