THE Carretera de Mijas re-opened to traffic yesterday (Wednesday), ending many months of travel disruption to the 40,000 people who used it daily.
The road which connects Mijas Pueblo with Fuengirola was closed for road works much longer than anticipated due to disputes over pay between workers and contractors. “Two new roundabouts have been created on the road and the bridge has been increased to four lanes,” said Fuengirola Mayor Esperanza Oña.
But many businesses located near works on what was once a busy road have seen profits fall by half and for others the reopening will come as little relief after being forced to close due to lack of clientele.
Expat commuter and mother of two, Nicola Thompson, said this will make massive difference, as the journey from Mijas to Fuengirola took her nearly double the time while the road works were on. “As I do the trip around four times a day, it wasted a lot of time, and time is precious,” she said.
The works have not cost Fuengirola Town Hall anything as the road works carried out by the Profasan company came about following an agreement with El Corte Ingles, located in the Mijas municipality, but bordering Fuengirola.
The agreement involved an €8 million investment. While the new road will be ‘bigger and better’, the extended time period in which it has taken to complete this section of the road has meant that many businesses have suffered financially and people have lost their jobs.
Café Alfin, opposite Lidl supermarket, has lost 30 per cent of its customers estimates its owner Ricardo Bedmar.
The 39-year-old father of one has owned the bar for six year and since the road works began has had to lay-off one of his employees, leaving him with five staff. “This is because many of my clients worked at or were clients of Peugeot and other businesses on the other side of the road works on the road up to Mijas Pueblo,” Ricardo told EWN.
“Only those from Fuengirola and his regulars still come”. However, the future does not look rosy now that the road will open. “Of course I am happy the road works are finally over, but I am a bit worried because those clients may have gotten used to going to other places and it could take a while to rebuild my clientele,” said Ricardo.
While the Lidl supermarket on the roundabout before the road works has seen fewer customers, these clients have been diverted to other stores, so as a whole the chain has not lost out too much.
The butchers/bakery outside the cash registers has lost 40 per cent of their clients, estimates one of its remaining workers, Francisco Jose Melgar Moreno who has worked there 11 years. “The bakery part had to close down as it was not selling enough of the baked goods and they cannot keep for more than a day,” Francisco told EWN.
“This means that two staff were let go, leaving me and one other to cover the butchery. Now that the road is opening I think the clients we lost will start coming back, bit by bit.”
Tangerine petrol station had to close on two occasions due to the road works. The Tangerine petrol station on the roundabout on the Mijas side of the road works has not only suffered financially, but was damaged by the road works.
“We had to close for a few days after workers cut the water tubes, which then had to be fixed,” Manager Joaquin Fernandez told EWN. “There were also some days when we had to close because the roundabout access was closed off. This year has been a disaster. Our profits for this period has been more than half that of the same period last year.”
The worry for this petrol station is also that it could take a while for customers, especially those who used to come to have food and drinks at the café, to come back.
“People get used to other places,” said Joaquin. “I think it will take at least a year to get back to previous sales levels.” People hoping to gain work during the summer where also affected.
“Although we managed to keep our nine full-time staff, the number of temporary workers we hire to cover high season, holidays’ etc, has decreased drastically,” said Joaquin.
“There is absolutely no excuse that these road works took so long to complete, when it should have been a matter of a few short months. The works were not done well, even down to the lack of signage, meaning many cars came down this way getting lost and not knowing how to use the alternative route.”
Photo credit: James Yeadon
By Nicole Hallett