News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week January 9th to January 15th
AIRPORTS TIGHTEN CONTROLS
Hundred per cent of luggage to be inspected at all airports
By Oliver McIntyre
IN COMPLIANCE WITH EUROPEAN UNION REGULATIONS, AENA, THE COMPANY THAT RUNS SPANISH AIRPORTS, HAS ANNOUNCED THAT BY THE END OF 2003 AIRPORTS WILL BE PREPARED TO INSPECT ALL BAGGAGE CHECKED ONTO FLIGHTS BY AIRLINE PASSENGERS.
As of January 1, many Spanish airports have already started to inspect 100 per cent of checked luggage, but Málaga's Pablo Ruiz Picasso Arport is a among the seven airports in the country that will phase the inspections in gradually during the course of the year.
AENA has revealed that the Málaga airport began the year with the capacity to inspect 25 per cent of checked luggage. By the end of April it will be able to inspect half of all luggage, and by the end of August it will be equipped to inspect 65 per cent of all cases. Between the beginning of September and the end of the year, the airport will bring its inspection regimen to the mandated 100 per cent. Besides Málaga, six other airports - Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Alicante, Santiago and Reus - require infrastructure renovations to allow for the installation of the necessary equipment and systems for inspecting 100 per cent of checked luggage.
PASSENGERS 'NOT AFFECTED'
AENA have also announced that the gradual implementation of baggage inspection at Málaga and the other six airports should allow them 'to maintain their daily operations without affecting the level of service to passengers and airlines'- although passengers will have to be careful not to include items in their luggage that could unnecessarily raise suspicions. AENA also notes that all airports, even those that are currently undergoing infrastructure renovations, should at present have the necessary equipment to be able to inspect luggage if requested by airline companies or airport security forces.
SOARING HOUSING PRICES - NO END IN SIGHT
Experts expect 15 per cent increase in 2003
By Oliver McIntyre
AFTER THE DRAMATIC 20 PER CENT INCREASES IN HOUSING COSTS SEEN IN THE PROVINCE OF MÁLAGA DURING 2002, IT LOOKS LIKE THE PROPERTY MARKET IS SET TO FOLLOW A SIMILAR TREND IN 2003
Experts in the real estate field predict prices to increase an additional 15 per cent in 2003, as the trend of purchasing real estate as an investment continues. The prediction of further price increases is based on the number of available housing units, the number of new units being built, and the rising costs of construction. According to analysts of the real estate market, outside factors could alter the rising trajectory of prices. For example, if the stock market rebounds and becomes more attractive to investors, fewer people may decide to put their money in real estate investments, thus reducing demand and lowering prices.
However, if trends continue as they are at present, construction costs, scarcity of available land for new construction, and a variety of new real-estate-related taxes and regulations are all expected to contribute to a continued increase in prices.
TORREMOLINOS TAKES THE LEAD
In 2002, the largest housing price increases in the country were seen in Torremolinos, according to a study by the Valuation Society (Sociedad de Tasación). Last year the average price-per-square-metre of a home in Torremolinos increased by nearly 32 per cent, to 1,049 euros.
Nonetheless, Marbella continues to be the most expensive real estate market on the Costa del Sol, with an average per-square-metre price of 1,338 euros.
FIRTS TRAGEDY OF 2003 IN THE STRAITS
By David Eade
Just days into the start of the New Year and the death toll of illegal immigrants attempting to cross the Straits of Gibraltar starts again. Five people died at 06.00 in the morning when their small boat crashed onto a reef just 25 metres from the Tarifa beach. In addition to the five bodies recovered by the Guardia Civil from the sea in terrible conditions, officers also managed to rescue another 35 members of the ill-fated expedition. A further 17 illegal immigrants who had managed to land safely were rounded up by the security forces in the area near the beach.
An SIVE patrol of the Guardia Civil first spotted the inflatable launch two miles off the zone known as Guadalmesí. Rodrígo Serrano, the local co-ordinator of the Civil Defence, was amongst the first on the scene. He told reporters: "It was awful to hear the voices of the immigrants in the sea without knowing where they were situated."
Also taking part in the operation were various vessels of the Maritime Rescue Service, the Guardia Civil and the Red Cross. In addition, two helicopters were called into action as were the Guardia Civil's special sub-aqua squad based in Ceuta. The survivors were taken by boat to Algeciras and then transferred to the town's Punta de Europa Hospital.
The final death total in this tragedy will take some time to be known. Two days after the launched crashed upon the reef another two bodies were found by the Guardia Civil near Guadalmesí. A spokesperson for the security force says it has not discounted the possibility of discovering further bodies in the coming days.
UNIONS CALL GENERAL STRIKE FOR FEBRUARY 20
By David Eade
THE UGT AND CCOO UNIONS HAVE CALLED A GENERAL STRIKE IN THE RURAL MUNICIPALITIES OF ANDALUCÍA AND EXTREMADURA FOR FEBRUARY 20. L
The strike is being organized after the breakdown in negotiations between the Government and unions on the subsidizing of agriculture. The strike will affect industry, agriculture and services in rural areas.
The secretary-generals of the UGT and CCOO, Cándido Méndez and José María Fidalgo, announced the strike action in Mérida whilst briefing union members on their meeting with the Minister of Labour Eduardo Zaplana. They informed members that the strike would go ahead on February 20 unless the Government re-instated agricultural labour subsidies.
STRIKE TO AFFECT RURAL AREAS
Manuel Pastrana, the UGT's leader in Andalucía, has announced that the strike would affect municipalities of less than 40,000 inhabitants and some larger ones that are very dependent on agriculture. The unions estimate that only the capitals of the provinces and another 20 to 30 municipalities would escape the strike action. After announcing the strike, the unions stated that the strike on February 20 is just the start of a campaign that will culminate in massive demonstrations on May 1 - the Day of the Worker.
COLUMBIAN WOMAN IN DEATH FALL
News Staff Reporter
A 28-year-old Colombian woman died in the early hours of the morning when she fell from her second floor flat in the Calle San Rafael in Fuengirola. According to police sources it is alleged that she was pushed by her boyfriend after they had been involved in an argument. The drop from the second floor was not great but the woman died when she struck an air conditioning installation.
Neighbours raised the alarm and police detained the woman's Swedish boyfriend. It is also reported they took into custody a French citizen who had witnessed the argument. It is believed the Swede owns a property business in Las Lagunas and is the father of the deceased woman's 5-year-old child. The child was not in the apartment at the time of the accident.
MALAGA TO BUILD CRUISE-SHIP DOCKING STATION
Port Authority approves 63-million-euro project to begin in 2003
By Oliver McIntyre
THE PORT AUTHORITY OF MÁLAGA HAS APPROVED PLANS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A 'CRUISE-SHIP STATION' TO ACCOMMODATE THE FLOATING CITIES OF TOURISTS THAT SAIL INTO THE CAPITAL'S PORT.
When the 63-million-euro project is complete, the cruise-ship docking station will include a passenger terminal with two separate wings, each capable of handling a cruise ship of up to 3,000 passengers.
The Port Authority plans to conduct the bidding process for the first phase of the project during the early months of the year, with work expected to begin by June. This first phase will take two years to complete and will cost approximately 27 million euros. The project's second phase, scheduled to begin in 2006, will cost 36 million euros and take an additional 20 months to complete.
The finished terminal building will consist of an 8,000-square-metre ground floor, with large windows looking out on the marina and the city, and a 3,000-square-metre second story. It will include customs and immigration services, a rental car office, a travel agency and a bar-restaurant.
Operation of the terminal will be contracted out to a private company, which will be selected by the Port Authority through a bidding process when construction is nearing completion. The company selected to operate the terminal will be responsible for final furnishing of the facility and for the construction of catwalks providing access to the cruise liners.
BRITONS ARRESTED FOR TRAFFICKING HASHISH
By David Eade
A 34-year-old British citizen, initials A.P., along with three other Britons, has been detained in La Línea de la Concepción charged with allegedly being the brains behind an operation in the trafficking of hashish. He was seized after a joint operation between Málaga and Cádiz police in collaboration with Customs officials in which a haul of 1,800 kilos of hashish was confiscated from a yacht 75 miles south east of Cabo Espartel.
On board the yacht 'Sayonara' four people, a Moroccan and three Britons aged 22, 24 and 48 years respectively were arrested. The security officers also discovered six bales of hashish, 1,500 euros, 40 pounds sterling and five mobile telephones. The yacht was then escorted by the Customs patrol to the port of Cádiz.
A police spokesperson described the arrested man as one of the 'main traffickers of Gibraltar'. When arrested he had 310 pounds in sterling, 90 euros and two mobile phones in his possession. He is being held by police at the disposition of the La Línea court whilst the other four are being held in Cádiz.
THOUSANDS ATTEND MALAGA'S THREE KINGS PARADE
By Oliver McIntyre
ON THE EVENING OF JANUARY 5, 'LOS REYES MAGOS' - THE THREE KINGS - PARADED THROUGH THE STREETS OF THE CAPITAL'S TOWN CENTRE ON MAJESTIC FLOATS, THROWING CANDY AND TOYS TO THE THOUSANDS OF EXUBERANT CHILDREN WHO LINED THE PARADE ROUTE.
And the youngsters, in turn, gave their Christmas wish lists to Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar, who in Spanish tradition replace Father Christmas in the role of primary Christmas gift-giver.
The festivities began at 17.00, when Los Reyes arrived by boat at the Port of Málaga and were greeted by Mayor Francisco de la Torre and most of the town council. Despite a few threatening drops of rain, the skies soon cleared, and the Three Kings enjoyed fine weather for the duration of their visit to the capital city. The procession left the port at 17.30 and made its way slowly through the streets of the town centre - delayed for 20 minutes at one point due to mechanical problems with one of the float-towing cars. Despite that small glitch, the procession successfully completed its route, ending in front of the Town Hall, amid singing and enthusiastic merry making.
After the culmination of the festivities, many of the adults in the crowd returned to the other pressing event of the day - finishing their last-minute shopping for all of those items on the wish lists given to Los Reyes. Despite the fact that it was Sunday, most of the stores in the town centre were open late into evening to take advantage of the final Christmas shopping spree. In Spanish tradition, the Three Kings deliver the children's Christmas gifts on the morning of January 6, the 'Día de los Reyes.'
REGIONAL GOVERNMENT TO INVESTIGATE BIRD DEATHS
News Staff Reporter
As recently reported by Costa del Sol News, an increasing number of dead razorbills have been found on the beaches of La Línea. In recent days the death toll has reached 39 birds, 38 razorbills and one seagull. Now the town's councillor for the environment, Alfonso González Carbonell, has written to the regional government to ask it to carry out an official enquiry into the steady rising number of bird deaths.
Thirty-two of the dead birds were found on the Poniente beach whilst the remainder were found nearby. La Línea Town Hall has petitioned the regional government's environment department to undertake tests to ascertain the reasons for the deaths and to take steps to ensure it does not happen again. It is not known whether the birds' deaths are related to the recent oil spillages in the Bay of Algeciras or if they are migratory birds that could have been contaminated elsewhere.