A stretch of the AP-7 motorway between Estepona and Fuengirola could soon be in darkness if the electricity bills are not paid soon. A 12 kilometre stretch in Estepona is already without light.
The Mayors of Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella and Estepona sent letters to Sevillana Endesa indicating their desire to cancel the contract for lighting the sections of the motorway which run through their towns.
As the Ministry of Public Works owns the motorway the mayors believe the ministry should pay to light it. The cost of lighting the road has reached millions of euros for the past 20 years, money which comes from the municipal purse.
The Mayors are also demanding a rebate of the money paid so far to be paid back to them. Estimates put this figure at €11 million. The cost of lighting the Marbella stretch of the motorway is approx €219,000 per year.
In response the Ministry of Public Works said “we are not forced to light any motorway, although we can carry out a study and illuminate danger spots such as the entrance and exit to tunnels.” They went on to say that the town halls made their own decision to illuminate their sections of the motorway which is why the contracts were in their name.
There had been claims that the ministry had demanded the electricity be turned off, something which they strongly deny.
David Valdez, former socialist leader of the opposition party in Estepona, says the mayor, Jose Maria Garcia Urbano, has “acted irresponsibly” and his decision “can endanger road safety”. Valdez added that Urbano should have “attempted to reach an agreement with the ministry” before cancelling payments.
Meanwhile, the Mayor of Manilva, Antonia Muñoz, said he will continue to pay the towns electricity bills until Christmas. However, he is is worried about the section between Chullera and the Manilva River with multiple roundabouts and slip roads which “would be dangerous without lighting”.
Torremolinos and Benalmadena are not affected by the problem because lighting for the section which runs through the towns is paid by the company which runs the toll motorway.