News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week August 15th to August 21st
COSTA FIRE MENACE
Five fires hit Estepona in 24 hours
By David Eade
THE MUNICIPALITY OF ESTEPONA HAS BEEN ABLAZE WITH FIVE SUMMER FIRES IN A PERIOD OF JUST 24 HOURS, ONE OF THEM HITTING THE DIANA PARK URBANISATION WHERE HOMES WERE UNDER THREAT.
The major fire took place in the El Zagalete zone of the Sierra Bermeja where 55 hectares of scrub and woodland were destroyed. The blaze was first reported at 23.20. and believed to have started in an old nearby waste dump at Las Minas.
The inferno was in an area difficult for both the fire teams and their vehicles to reach. The firemen battled throughout the night to contain the fire till 08.00 when specialist fire fighting planes bombarded the area with tons of water. The fire was finally brought under control at 10.00.
Other fires blazed in Cancelada, where a hectare of wasteland was burnt; in the zone of Cuesta de Ronda and in the Diana Park urbanisation where the blaze was extinguished by fire fighters before it reached nearby homes. There was also a fire in the Los Pedregales Park, which destroyed 15 hectares of scrubland and pine trees.
FIRE FIGHTERS IN ACTION
A massive fire fighting effort was involved in tackling the various fires. Four specialist fire fighting planes took part, aided by five helicopters. Eight fire tenders plus 23 fire fighting teams each consisting of seven members worked to bring the fires under control. Fourteen technicians from the Infoca fire prevention authority were involved as were two members of regional environment department. In addition various police and civil defence units were also on hand.
TWO PEOPLE ARRESTED
As Costa del Sol News went to press it was announced that two people had been arrested accused of starting the fires in Los Pedregales and El Zagalete. An investigation into the five fires has so far established that three were started by acts of negligence.
One of the accused is a 25-year-old man who, along with three other youths, lit a barbeque in a prohibited area. Regional government has stated that it intends to reclaim the cost of fighting the fires from those found guilty by the courts, extending the punishment to those guilty of starting fires due to acts of negligence.
TOLL MOTORWAY NOW OPERATIONAL
The new stretch boasts seven bridges and four tunnels
By David Eade
THE NEW TOLL MOTORWAY BETWEEN ESTEPONA AND GUADIARO IS NOW OPERATING, ELEVEN DAYS AFTER THE DUAL CARRIAGEWAY SECTION OF THE N-340 WAS OPENED TO TRAFFIC.
toll road had a second inauguration at 12.45 on Monday when the
Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Benigno Blanco, along with
representatives of the construction company and the road's operators
officiated at the ceremony.
The budget for the new toll motorway was 199 million euros and 730 people have been employed in its construction. In the massive construction effort 17,651,472 cubic metres of earth were moved. The new 22.3 kilometre stretch of motorway has seven bridges and four tunnels, the longest of which is 1070 metre Pedro Jiménez. The toll motorway operators anticipate that 7,000 vehicles will use this stretch of the road each day.
ALHAURÍN BY-PASS OPENS
The new by-pass to the north of Alhaurín de la Torre is now open and it is estimated that 90 per cent of the traffic which used to pass through the town centre will now use this new route. This is good news for the town's residents, as around 600 heavy goods vehicles will now by-pass the centre every day. The new road will also ease travel for residents of Alhaurín el Grande and Coín who can now avoid travelling through Alhaurín de la Torre on their way to and from Málaga City.
SAN PEDRO SOUTHERN BY-PASS REOPENED
The Town Hall has re-opened the coastal deviation between Las Petunias and El Ingenio to avoid a complete collapse of traffic on the N-340 caused by the delay in placing the necessary traffic lights on the new by-pass.
More than 40,000 vehicles per day use this stretch of road, a bottleneck black spot for many years. However, the new temporary plan has caused concern among people living in the locality who are convinced that while it might relieve some pressure on the N-340, it will only increase the queues around the El Ingenio crossroads.
CRISIS GROWS AMONGST WINE PRODUCERS
Growers demand tighter control on imports and frauds
By Dave Jamieson
MÁLAGA'S WINE INDUSTRY IS SAID TO BE IN 'TOTAL CRISIS' FOLLOWING A 50 PER CENT DROP IN PRICES OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS.
Producers are asking for Government support and a viability plan for the sector, including more control on the availability of foreign wines in Spain. A fall in wine consumption is reported to be an important factor in the crisis, with the average person consuming 29 per cent less than in 1987. The provincial secretary of the Union of Small Agriculturalists, Juan Calderón, says that the situation is exacerbated by the lack of controls on imported wines, and the lack of anti-fraud measures.
Eighty per cent of Málaga's provincial wine production is centred on the area around Antequera, Alameda and Humilladero where 1,100 hectares of vines are grown, and where 1,200 families depend on the industry for survival. Many have invested heavily in modernising equipment and irrigation, as well as introducing more productive varieties of grape, but now see a sharp drop in their business value.
MORE GOVERNMENT AID
Last week, 300 producers visited Málaga City to gather support in a campaign demanding Government assistance. They say that such aid, which is provided in other European countries, is vital to "a healthy Mediterranean product".
RAF PLANE IN GIB LANDING SCARE
By David Eade
A RAF Nimrod maritime patrol plane was involved in an emergency landing scare at Gibraltar Airport. The plane is one of several aircraft that has been stationed on the Rock for several days. The pilot radioed the control tower to report that the aircraft was suffering technical problems and a grade 3 alert was instigated.
Police immediately closed the road across Gibraltar's runway to traffic causing tailbacks to occur. Pedestrians were also denied access to the zone. The airport's fire brigade took up position and was backed up by additional fire units as well as the ambulance and police service. In the event the Nimrod jet made a safe landing.
In the past, aviation experts have called in to question the safety of the Rock's airport. One of the major concerns is the close proximity to a petrol service station as well as the Victoria sports stadium.
MIJAS DONKEYS IN THE LIMELIGHT
Donkey Charity starts publicity campaign aimed at tourists
By David Eade
THE BRITISH ANIMAL CHARITY, THE DONKEY SANCTUARY, HAS STARTED AN ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN HIGHLIGHTING CASES OF CRUELTY AGAINST DONKEYS.
The publicity is aimed at tourists visiting towns in Spain and Greece where donkeys are used as taxis. The popular 'burro-taxis' of Mijas, one of the town's main tourist attractions, are amongst those being targeted by the charity.
The publicity campaign shows a donkey carrying an overweight tourist and asks holidaymakers to think twice before they use a 'burro-taxi'. Amongst the claims made against the donkey owners is that their animals have to suffer excessive heat, their harnesses are in poor condition and that they are made to carry overweight passengers.
The Donkey Sanctuary has been at pains to point out that it is not attacking all donkey taxi operators. Many, it says, care for their animals very well. What the charity is asking tourists to do is to be on the look out for cases of abuse and is trying to persuade negligent donkey owners to take better care of their animals.
MIJAS REFUTES ACCUSATIONS
A spokesman for a collective concerned with the welfare of the donkeys in Mijas stressed that the majority of 'burro-taxi' owners looked after their animals well. However he claimed that his group had offered to create shady rest places for the donkeys and to provide periodic veterinary check-ups for free. Apparently this offer has not been taken up by the donkeys' owners. In addition it had asked the 'burro-taxi' owners to impose a weight limit for passengers.
The Donkey Sanctuary campaign has been met with bewilderment by the 'burro taxi' owners. One donkey owner said he knew there had been contact with the Mijas welfare group who had offered help but that nothing came of the offer. He added that the owners already provided shade for the donkeys and the town hall laid on water.
Mijas 'burro taxi' owner said that everybody was welcome to come
and see how well the town's donkeys were treated. He stressed they
were well looked after and had all the water they wanted. He stated
that donkeys may not be so well looked after in other towns but
that was not the case in Mijas.
SAUDI KING'S ARRIVAL IN MARBELLA
Marbella has been talking of little else than the arrival of Saudi King Fahd on Friday 9th which, given his approximately 3,000 strong Court, is reckoned will bump up the incomes of the town's luxury hotels and businesses by an extra daily five million euros overall.
While some 200 people, mainly Moroccans and Saudis, have gathered every day since last Sunday at the entrance to the HM's palace in the hope of landing work in the royal gardens, the Costa del Sol Hospital, mindful of the sovereign's delicate state of health, set aside an entire floor, fully equipped for every type of emergency, despite the fact that the Saudi retinue includes its own complete medical team.
King Fahd, who has recently undergone a cataract operation in Switzerland, has close links with the Costa del Sol Hospital where the foundation set up in his name has contributed to various projects, the last being a donation of 901,000 euros for a specialist unit in the Cardiology Department.
However, not all are rubbing their hands with glee, for although hotels and supermarkets have stocked up with hundreds of legs of lamb in anticipation, a catering firm turned down the opportunity to provide for three hundred people per day on the basis that the offer would cause a severe work overload, while those who previously worked in the palace grounds said that the monthly wage was 3,000 euros plus tips for a 12-hour day with no time off.