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Torrevieja: "Like living in a slum" Torrevieja: "Like living in a slum"

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Torrevieja: “Like Living in a Slum”

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In June of 2022, Torrevieja was set to become one of the cleanest towns in Spain, thanks to a new waste disposal contract, which, although awarded to the same company who were already operating the service, promised to be better for everyone, but the reality seems to be that the only people benefitting from the arrangement in the company which now absorbs a quarter of the entire municipal budget to provide a worse service than ever before.

On the ground, residents now have fewer dustbins, grouped together into zones, which means they now have further to walk (or drive, as many now do as a result). The dustbins are larger and operated by a foot pedal, which many elderly people have said makes it too difficult to open, so they have no choice but to leave their rubbish by the side (we have, incidentally, seen young and very fit people also struggle). The green and garden waste bins have disappeared completely, recycling bins are constantly overflowing, so, again, rubbish has to be left at the side. Despite a recent report which saw the Councillor for International Resident, Gitte Lund, saying we can all help by using the correct bins, including blue for paper, these bins do not exist in many of the allocated zones outside the centre, and on top of this, in typical victim blaming fashion, there is now a brigade of inspectors who will fine users for not complying, whereas the company running the service can get away with doing whatever it pleases, and failing, without any risk or repercussions, despite the fact that the auditors are saying they are doing a bad job and not complying with the contract, to which the town hall and local government of Eduardo Dolón are simply turning a blind eye. As one resident who approached us whilst researching this story said, making “Torrevieja like living in a slum”.

The problem is now starting to become more apparent, perhaps due to increase in people during the summer who are unhappy with the situation, and the opposition political groups are now highlighting the deficiencies and calling for Dolón to take action.

Last week, Pablo Samper, spokesman for Sueña Torrevieja, explains that “14 months have already passed since the signing of the contract, and Torrevieja still does not have the new dustbins that should have been in place since October 30”.

Section 8.5 of the technical specifications that the winning bidder must comply with establishes that “the disposal of the new containers is mandatory within a maximum period of four months after the signing of the contract”.

Samper assures that “this important breach of the contract has not caused a reaction to any of the three urban cleaning councillors that the Torrevieja City Council has had from July 2022 to August 2023, who have not proposed any sanction to the winning company, nor to the company that controls the quality of the service, neither, Samper concludes, “has the situation made the Mayor of Torrevieja himself or the members of the Local Government Board react.”

The PSOE in Torrevieja followed on, with their spokesperson, Barbera Soler, taking to social media to highlight the problems, including, by request, publishing a video with English subtitles, and also holding a press conference, reporting further “serious breaches” by Acciona, the company in charge of garbage collection.

Soler explained how the company Quipons, another company who are in charge of quality control of the services that Acciona executes, has issued a series of reports in which it ensures that said company fails in almost all control indicators repeatedly and seriously.

Soler pointed out that the breaches mentioned in the reports are described as serious or very serious in the garbage contract and that they should be heavily penalised, and the company may even be required to pay damages or terminate the contract itself: “the logical thing to do would be that the City Council and the entire government team were demanding responsibilities from the company, by imposing the corresponding sanctions. In this way, we would have recovered part of the amount that is being billed for services that are not even being provided and even more so now that the contract is intended to be amended upwards”.

“The reports are devastating”, in the words of the socialist councillor, who has referred to part of their content, highlighting a significant lack of personnel and material resources, as well as the absolute failure of the pruning or household collection system, for which there has been a delay of more than two weeks and a lack of telephone service. Overflowing containers, lack of maintenance and cleaning of them and their surroundings, deep-rooted dirt, street cleaning of urbanisations absent, old vehicles, employment law violations, and many others are some of the incidents that they report.

Acciona have not only avoided being penalised by the lack of action from the town hall, they may actually end up increasing the price of its services.

The Socialist Party lament that the contract has been provided so poorly that it has led to the deterioration of the image of Torrevieja, something that is expressed in the Quipons reports literally.

Soler has ended up warning that she is going to supervise these files and has asked the mayor to publicly apologise to all citizens and visitors for the continued inaction of the council regarding the lack of cleanliness in the city.

So far, the town hall’s response, including that of the mayor himself, Eduardo Dolón, has been silence, whilst the residents are still paying for a considerably inferior service.

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