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Question marks over two more Puerto projects 

Another month, another column, and another letter from a Puerto reader with a grievance he wants to share. His concerns (let’s call him Disgruntled of Puerto 2) are related to two of the town’s capital projects. No, not the bus station , or the new port, he wants to know what’s happening to the two projects currently ongoing, namely calle Quintana and the cliff top walk in La Paz.

Let’s take them in that order. He writes that he returned to Puerto in August fully expecting to be able to take a stroll down calle Quintana unhinder-ed, with all the works complet-ed and was amazing to find the work still very much in progress. Now regular read-ers of this column will know that throughout the spring and summer months I commented at length, on just that topic, it almost became an obsession. Like me, our reader probably comes from a country where a published deadline is exactly that, the date by which the project will be finished, with the contractor aware that any delay would incur financial penalties for them. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case here where there is no sense of urgency and where the mañana mañana approach seems to apply to almost everything.

Yes, there was a delay earlier in the year, although there was no official statement to that fact, but then there never is. They are quite happy to announce the start of the project and to line up for the photos, yet should anything negative crop up then no one wants to talk about it. So, the reason for the delay was never made public, at least, not from official sources, but the unofficial grapevine was quick enough to announce that it was due to them actually running out of those grey concrete slabs, the ones everybody adores. That much was obvious, even to the untrained eye, as there was little evidence of them on site and weeks went by without many of them being laid. The work didn’t actually grind to a halt; however, for a while the number of workers dwindled until it was almost a case of one man walking around with a shovel in his hand all day while another did the same with a broom.

Eventually work resumed and at a fair pace, but they were never going to make up for lost time and did anyone really think that the project would finish on time, wishful thinking if they did, but then there could always be a first time. I did hear that the work was going to come to a halt once they reached the junction with calle San Juan and resume again next year, however they seem to be continuing past there and as I write this the work is ongoing.

The second project, the cliff top walkway in La Paz, our reader writes that it looks as if nothing has been done for months. He claims it appears that the only progress made since the project started in January is that all the existing concrete tiles have been ripped up.

I have to admit it; this one seems to have slipped my attention. The only comment I have made on it was back in January when the project was just starting. I remember scoffing at the fact that the walkway was to form part of a proposed coastal path stretching for San Juan de la ramble to Santa Ursula. I also remember that this short stretch of paved walkway had a project budget of one million euros’s plus a bit of small change. A thought at the time it was a bit steep, almost as steeps as the steps you have to climb from the town in order to reach this section of ‘coastal path’. So I almost feel I should apologise for not having mentioned it since. In my defence, it is not an area I frequent that often and with it being away from the centre of town it is not as high profile beside which they have the area so well barricaded off that it is not easy to get near enough to be nosey.

I had heard nothing about this project or about the reasons for its inactivity, although I had my suspicions, most problems here revolve around money. Then coincidently, just a few days ago I read an headline suggesting just that reason, going on to say that the one million euros’s plus small change was not enough for the contractors and they wanted three hundred thou-sand euro’s more, give or take.

I have no other details so what follows is purely supposition on my part. To me this suggests two different schools of thought. Either the contractor started on the site, wreaked havoc and then thought they would hold the council to ransom for more money. Or having started lifting the slabs they found a multitude of sins buried beneath, which had neither been planned nor budgeted for. I suspect the latter, given that the contractors are one of the biggest and most respected Spanish construction companies. Still all this is irrelevant as either the council/consorcio was unwilling to, or unable to, stump up the extra cash so the contract reached stalemate and as a result no work has been done on the site for about six months.

This could take forever to resolve and in the mean time guests at the Semiramis Hotel and the Bellavista Apartments can enjoy the view of an inactive building site, which, I guess, is marginally better than having to listen to an active one.

Meanwhile Cabildo, the island’s government has released the budget for a whole raft of road improvements throughout the island, of which part, a small part I suspect, is destined for Puerto de la Cruz for improvements to a pe-destrian street. The extra funds needed to restart this project, I wonder. If not, it probably means that they are soon going to start ripping up another of the town’s streets.

This month, before the change of plan, I was intent on commenting about the town’s latest marketing slogan, (Puerto de la Cruz, parte de ti – Puerto de la Cruz, part of you) the new brand name the town is currently saturating social media sites with. I also intended to mention the adverts of the same theme, which advertise Puerto de la Cruz on bus shelters, fair enough, but on shelters in Puerto de la Cruz itself, seems crazy to me. Still this can wait until next time.