|Friday, December 15, 2017
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Bus station boost but what about the other Puerto projects? 

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At last there has been some movement on the Bus Station Project.

It is almost as if someone has suddenly woken up to the fact that if work doesn’t start soon it won’t be finished, or hopefully finished, in time for the next elections.

This project has been stuck in the doldrums for so long it had become such a pariah that interested parties had jumped ship for fear of being associated with broken promises and further delays.

Not any more, now they are all clamouring to climb back on board, thinking of all the photo opportunities it will present, thinking of the big tick they will be able to put on their next election manifesto. Yes, we did that, it may have been over three years late, but we are politicians, we have a short memory.

So what has happened to revive all this sudden interest? It seems that somewhere in the dark recesses of Madrid the piece of paper concerning the transfer of the disputed ownership of part of the site had managed to claw its way to the top of the pile and had been duly signed and rubber stamped. Or perhaps, some battle weary Civil Servant had returned from his summer holiday with renewed vigour and had attacked the files in his pending tray. The files he couldn’t face a few months ago while dreaming of his upcoming vacation. Either way, the municipality now has either, ownership, or a long lease of the entire bus station site. The last barrier having been removed there is no excuse for the project not to start.

When will it start? There is a bit of a mixed message, the official line of Cabildo, the main purse string holders, is that it will start in January. However, local sources have been quoted as saying it will be underway before the end of this year. I suppose it all comes down to how you define start, for me that is when the contractors arrive.

Yet, this week it could be construed that work has already begun as they have been clearing the debris of the now defunct kiosk bar that has occupied the site for decades. So maybe it is 1-0 on a technicality to the local administration in the PR stakes, not that I am implying there is any competition.

What is it all going to cost? The budget is a staggering 2.4 million euros with a build time of 18 months. So, it is a bit touch and go that it will be completed by the time the citizens of Puerto next go to the polls in May 2019, given that it is almost inevitable there will be delays along the way, still nearly completed will surely be enough to be a vote winner.

Hang on a minute, when this project was first touted, it seems like eons ago now, (after all the old bus station closed in 2008) wasn’t there local newspaper reports quoting a budget of just 700,000 euros with a times-cale of just 6 months. Not that I ever believed these figures to be right, especially the build time, besides which the project has grown since then, the plans have changed, there have been a lot more fingers in the pie, and of course, don’t forget inflation.

What happens to the old Station now? Who knows, it is anybody’s guess, luckily it was deemed a separate project so it wouldn’t hold up construction of the new station, or, at least, that was the theory. I assume the site will be redeveloped, but I am thinking we will be forced to look at the advertising hoardings for a good few more years to come.

This is long awaited good news for the town, news which will go some way to restoring confidence in its administ-ration. Perhaps more so with the Parque Francisco project also underway, though I don’t think people will really notice any real progress there until phase 2 starts and the old building is demolished to make way for the new , which could be as early as April next year according to news reports. Good news also that funds are being made available for improvements to two of the main routes into town in the near future. Work on the road through the Martiánez tunnel is due to start this month and improvements are planned on the road through Las Arenas, with the emphasis being placed on pedestrian safety.

However, not everyone is happy, local residents are taking to social media to vent their frustrations over the apparent lack of public services in the town. If the posts and photos are to be believed then the Ayunta-miento is failing, tourist areas aside, to maintain even a basic level of cleanliness in the vast majority of the town and even cleanliness within tourist areas could be improved on. I mention this only to point out that well capital projects completed look good on Election Manifestos and may be vote winners , it is the little things that should be happening and aren’t, right on the voters doorstep that must surely be vote losers.

For many I guess the biggest vote getter must surely be the Muelle project. It has been the biggest bone of contention in the town for many years. There is a long held belief that the town was passed over in favour of the Garachico development and now again the fears are the same over planned developments in the south of the island. What they need is reassurance that the project is still moving forward, that progress is being made. Ask a local British resident to comment and the standard reply is that it won’t ever happen in their lifetime. For some I think that is probably true, but for the majority I am sure the new Muelle will be a reality.

What is the reality and what is the state of play at the moment? To be honest it do-esn’t appear to be very clear, the project seems to have become embroiled in red tape, with those concerned emplo-yed in producing the necessary documents to satisfy the whims of the Mandarins in Madrid, for whom there are probably more pressing and important matters at the moment. Locally there appears to be some discord amongst the ranks, which clearly doesn’t help the cause, a difference of opinion, along party lines, over the actual state of play of the project. Are there fractures forming in the coalition as we move closer May 2019, and are our representatives true colours starting to show?

One side chose local radio to voice the opinion that the Muelle project won’t have started before, May 2019, while those in the opposing corner took to social media to reaffirm that they are working tirelessly to ensure the project does. Has Mr. Negative just scored an own goal, shot himself in the foot as it were. It is still a bit early for elec-tioneering; surely this is one belief that has been aired far too soon. Maybe he is so confident of re-election that he feels he doesn’t need the Muelle project as part of his manifesto, or maybe he is just smarting that the project is out of his control.

Finally for those who think the Muelle project has been dragging its feet for far too long, spare a though for those connected with the Botanical Garden extension, over 30 year in the planning and construction phase and it is still nowhere near completion. By comparison the Muelle project is a mere fledgling.