News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week October 17th to October 23rd
TIME TO BELT UP
Police to intensify control over careless motorists
By Avril Rentell and Eve Gallagher
A SPECIAL CAMPAIGN BY SPAIN'S TRAFFIC AUTHORITIES TO MAKE PEOPLE AWARE OF THE NEED TO WEAR CAR SEATBELTS STARTED ON MONDAY AND WILL RUN UNTIL THE END OF OCTOBER.
During this period random checks will be carried out by traffic police and local police on around 60,000 vehicles on main roads in and between towns and anyone, which includes back seat passengers, not wearing a seatbelt will be subject to a fine.
NINETY EUROS FINE
The fine will amount to 90 euros, which can be reduced by 30 per cent if it is paid before official receipt of the fine at the offender's home address.
The fine will apply not only to front-seat passengers, but also to those sitting in the rear seats of cars and payment of the fine will not be the responsibility of the driver, but will be levied on the person not wearing the belt.
The general director of Spain's traffic authorities, Carlos Muñoz, underlined the national character of the campaign adding that it would go ahead in all the autonomous communities as well, with the exception of the Basque Country, which had still not given its confirmation.
Sr Muñoz also said that: " Our main aim is to convince people of the necessity of wearing the seatbelt. At the moment we feel that the only way of achieving this is by a stricter control on motorists and passengers accompanied by higher fines."
The motorists associations are, for their part, supporting the initiative put forward by the traffic authorities, although they have also pointed out that they find disappointing Trafico's stress on the fine. Mario Arnaldo, director of the Association of European Motorists believes that the campaign should be directed at motorists' consciences and not at their pocket.
A recent study showed that around 2.5 million drivers in Spain never fasten their seatbelts.
Last year, 16.7 per cent of drivers not wearing seatbelts died in road traffic accidents, compared with 2.3 per cent of drivers who were wearing seatbelts.
FOR THE THIRD YEAR RUNNING THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT IN MADRID HAS SET ASIDE FUNDING IN ITS BUDGETS FOR THE MUCH NEEDED N-340 UNDERPASS THROUGH SAN PEDRO DE ALCÁNTARA.
The state budget for 2003 has allocated 1.2 million euros to initiate the works, which would remove the San Pedro bottleneck through which more than 40,000 vehicles pass each day.
Now it is up to regional government and Marbella Town Hall to remove the other obstacles that have blocked this project to date. The PP deputy for Málaga, Manuel Atencia, said: "The government has the money, the intention and now the responsibility is with the Town Hall and regional government."
The pressure is now on regional government to approve the project without having first to agree a new town planning ordinance for Marbella. For its part the Town Hall has assured all parties that it has acquired all the land needed for the project, which was one of the government's past demands.
NO UNDERPASS FOR SABINILLAS
The IU deputy for Málaga, José Luis Centella, has expressed his anger at central government's decision not to allocate any funding for an underpass on the N-340 as it passes through Sabinillas. He declared that the state budget 'doesn't contemplate even one euro' for the promised underpass.
Sr Centella said that the dual-carriageway project between Estepona and Guadiaro was a 'botched job'. He argued that the dozen roundabouts, the dimensions of the lanes and the lack of acceleration lanes were all creating safety problems on the road.
In Sr Centella's opinion, the new dual carriageway section shows that it is impossible to convert the N-340 into a motorway. He believes the new toll motorway should be made toll free to take the heavy through traffic and the N-340 should become an urban road.
TAXI ATTACKS PROMPT CITY PROTEST
Drivers speak of fear and impotence after violence
By David Jamieson
MÁLAGA TAXI DRIVERS ARE ON HIGH ALERT AFTER FOUR ATTACKS IN 24 HOURS, WITH A PROTEST ON TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTING THE FEAR AND IMPOTENCE WHICH THE DRIVERS FEEL.
The first two incidents happened early on Thursday when two drivers were threatened with knives and their vehicles set alight. Only 24 hours later, two further attacks were reported but thought to be unrelated to the earlier assaults. The president of Málaga's self-employed taxi drivers, Ángel de Mula, said of the first two incidents that the attacker seemed more intent on damaging the vehicles than on stealing cash. He said that two or three attacks are reported every month in the city, resulting in many drivers abandoning the work.
SECURITY MEASURES PROPOSED
Security for taxi drivers is a problem which has troubled Málaga Town Hall for some time, with latest proposals including replacing the whole fleet by modern cars fitted with security screens, an electronic location system already used in Granada, and payment by credit card to avoid drivers carrying large sums of cash.
THE VOLVO MASTERS RETURNS TO VALDERRAMA
THE VOLVO MASTERS ANDALUCÍA 2002 GOLF TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO THE RYDER CUP COURSE AT VALDERRAMA IN SAN ROQUE ON NOVEMBER 7,8,9 AND 10.
By David Eade
This major tournament, which decides the Order of Merit for the European golf circuit, is coming back to the course where it was first born 15 years ago. Amongst those fighting for the title will be Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Padraig Harrington.
For the past two years the end of season tournament has been held at the Montecastillo course in Jerez. The reason for the switch was because Valderrama was hosting the American Express World Championships at around the same time. However the tour organizers have agreed that the Volvo Masters will be held at Valderrama at least until 2004.
Regional government's councillor for tourism and sport, Javier Aroca, stated that the last Volvo Masters in Montecastillo had an economic impact on the area of 1,200 million pesetas. He stressed the tournament has now been renamed the Volvo Masters Andalucía and pointed out that three per cent of all the tourists who visited the region came to specifically play golf.
BETTY MOLESWORTH DIES IN LOS BARRIOS
By David Eade
The Mayor of Los Barrios has publicly declared the municipality's sadness at the recent death of the distinguished British botanist Betty Molesworth. She had lived in the locality for the past 30 years and a botanical park in the Avenida José Chamizo de la Rubia had been named in her honour.
Betty Molesworth trained as a taxonomic botanist and spent many years with her husband in Malaysia as well as travelling extensively throughout the world in search of plants and animals. She received international recognition in her later years for discovering a unique specie of fern in the Alcornocales national park.
A spokesperson for the ecologist group Agaden stated that the passing of Betty Molesworth was a great loss. Her book "Wildflowers of Southern Spain" published by Santana is on sale in many bookshops on the Costa del Sol.
POLICEMEN ARRESTED ON DRUGS CHARGES
Dramatic car chase through Málaga streets ends satisfactorily
By Dave Jamieson
A risky police chase, with shots fired, has ended with the arrest of three law enforcement officers in Málaga on drugs charges. Two policemen, who are father and son, were detained at the end of last week, along with a former Guardia Civil officer, all of whom are charged with the sale of cocaine. The three men were observed as they met at the Málaga Palacio Hotel and made their way to the Paseo del Parque.
The arrests followed a dramatic car chase through the centre of Málaga when the suspected dealers, in a metallic blue Merecedes, were followed from the Paseo del Parque through Paseo de la Alameda by two unmarked police cars from Madrid, three local police cars and around a dozen National Police motorcycles. In Calle Hilera, shots were fired in the air and the wanted men detained.
While the contents of their vehicle have not been officially revealed, police sources have indicated that considerable quantities of cash and cocaine were found. As well as drugs offences, the men are being charged with falsifying documents to enable eastern Europeans, predominantly from Russia, to enter Spain illegally. They are also being investigated in connection with an alleged extortion racket.
BENALMÁDENA'S OLYMPIC BID
Benalmádena is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Puerto Deportivo and in that period the town itself has undergone a massive change. Now the Mayor, Enrique Bolín, has set a new objective for his municipality. He has stated that his aim is for Benalmádena's port to host the Olympic games in 2016.
Already in the pipeline are projects to improve services, increase the number of hotels and residences and to enlarge the port so as to eradicate the current waiting list of 300 yachts. Mayor Bolín believes the addition of this entire new infrastructure will see Benalmádena well placed to win an Olympic bid.
Madrid and Sevilla are amongst the front-runners to be considered as hosts for future Olympic games. However, unlike Barcelona or Sydney, neither has a port to host the nautical events and Sr Bolín believes the 70 million euro investment planned for Benalmádena's Port will make it the perfect Olympic venue.