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GUARDIA CIVIL AND NATIONAL POLICE CONTROL BORDER QUEUES
By David Eade
Life is full of coincidences. Last Friday I wrote that it was time for the mayor of La Línea, Gemma Araujo, to stop the talking and do something about the border queue situation. Later that day she met Gibraltar’s Chief Minister. By Monday afternoon there was a Guardia Civil patrol at the roundabout junction by the loop ordering trafficking and ensuring cars did not cut in.
The Guardia Civil was there on Tuesday too and I hope today as well. However my experience of these things is that we get a show of authority for a day or two and then it is back to unorganised chaos. One also has to question whether highly trained Guardia Civil officers are the right people for the job when there are local police in La Línea who could do it as effectively. In fact on Thursday it was the National Police who were on duty.
It is so far so good but much more needs to be done. True the Guardia Civil have cut out the queue jumping at the roundabout whilst they are there. The fact still remains that traffic has to be better managed in that zone.
The first point is that some of the cars that cut across at the roundabout are not coming on to Gibraltar but trying to get to that section of La Línea’s port. It is ridiculous they should have to join the queue to get on to the Rock. However some people indicate they want to go to the port and then once through queue jump.
The second point is that on land by the final stretch of the access road is the Parking Solidario. This is a plot of land owned by the Algeciras port authority which the jobless in La Línea have been allowed to take over on a temporary basis to operate as a parking lot. It usually fills up quickly with many workers on Gibraltar parking their cars there every morning.
When it first started you could cross the traffic at the roundabout – loop and drive straight in to the parking lot. Now you have to go round the loop itself and then cut across the queuing traffic at the entrance. Needless to say this is a far from ideal situation and also allows for queue jumpers to pretend they are going to the parking when they are not.
Those operating the Parking Solidario are also unhappy that under the new regime with the Guardia Civil controlling drivers their customers are not allowed to cut across at all but have to join the Gibraltar queue. This is an inconvenience to them but also means the Gibraltar queue is longer that it should be because it has car park and port users amongst its number.
As I have said before the solution to the traffic queues cannot be a quick fix. There has to be designated lanes for Gibraltar traffic with easy access for car park and the port users. All this has to be free from the ability to abuse the system and has to be policed. We are far from that happy state as of yet but it’s a start, it’s a start.
The court hearing the Malaya corruption case in which the former director of town planning in Marbella, Juan Antonio Roca, is the principal accused has authorised the sale of one of his properties in Sotogrande for over 800,000 euros. The sale price is deemed to be at current market value. Monies will go towards paying Roca’s various court imposed fines and compensation fees.
Every year Algeciras port along with the various security, ambulance, road services plus local town halls including Tarifa and Los Barrios put in to effect Operación Paso del Estrecho as some two million Moroccans in 500,000 vehicles head home and return again on their summer holidays. Over 7,000 people will be on duty for the security operation which will run to September 15.
A heliport is being built on council-owned land close to the Carretera de Cortes in Ubrique so that medical helicopters will be able to transfer patients quickly from the municipality to hospital. A similar project has also been authorised in Olvera and should be carried out this year as part of a network of heliports which is being created in Andalucía. Two, in Villamartin and the Punta Europa hospital in Algeciras, have already been completed at a cost of 446,886 euros.