AEMA says that the Almanzora motorway is “dead in the water” and that it will never be finished in our lifetime, as attempts by the Junta to attract private investment to finish the motorway fail – because it will cost them six times as much as actually building the thing themselves.
AEMA is the Asociación de Empresarios del Mármol de Andalucía (Andalucian Marble Business Association) and has launched a public threat that it will start a series of strikes and public marches across Almeria unless the Junta publishes a new roadmap for the completion of the abandoned motorway.
The motorway was supposed to link the E15 near Huercal Overa with the A92-N near Baza, going via Albox and the marble producing areas of Almería. The whole point of the motorway was, in fact, to help the marble producers export their wares.
Sadly, when the economic crisis hit, the Junta ran out of money and, essentially, withdrew funding, which is why the drive to Albox is 100% third world. The Junta then came up with a bloody stupid idea to attract private investment to finish the motorway – in essence, the promise was that if private companies finished the motorway at their own cost, they could charge the Junta whatever they wanted to over the next 30 years in “maintainence fees”.
A consortium lead by Ferrovial / Acciona promised 123 million euros worth of investment to build part of the motorway, from Purchena to the E15, but that involves only 15 km of new motorway and the rest of the (publically already built) motorway to be handed over to them. Not a bad deal. Last month they signed a letter of intent with the Junta which is now, it seems, being withdrawn.
The Junta appears to be walking away from the deal after the Public Accounts Committee pointed out that, over 30 years, they would have to pay the consortium 845 million euros – not a bad investment for the original 123 million euros invested! And that 123 million is only a projection, as much of the motorway is already half built and only has to be finished off.
The Junta, not being a race of people used to losing face, has so far ignored the problem, even when the construction company walked off the motorway works due to lack of payments, and parts of it was so badly damaged in the September floods that it will have to be rebuilt.
Essentially, the Albox motorway, open in some parts, has been abandoned, according to El Diario de Seville, who reports major fighting between the coalition members of the Andalucian Government, the IU and the PSOE over the deal.
Anyway, President of AEMA, Antonio Martinez, says that his sector could expand and create more jobs in the province if only the Junta would improve communications to their far off mines and workshops. Construction of the motorway would lower costs to Murcia and Almeria ports, allowing expansion of their businesses, and the construction of the AVE would also help, he points out.