BALEARIC GOVERNMENT POINTS OUT THE POLITICAL AND FINANCIAL SCANDAL TUNNEL CAUSEDBy Humphrey Carter
THE Soller Tunnel, apart from being classified the most dangerous in Europe this year by the European motoring consortium ADAC, was one of the most controversial projects of the past decade, causing political and financial scandals that ended a handful of local political careers. Yesterday, Balearic president Francesc Antich added fuel to the fire proclaiming the Soller Tunnel is the worst in Spain for many number of reasons, in reference to the financial scandal surrounding the project. However, Antich, concerned about the alarming findings, said that all the departments concerned will be taking urgent action to rectify the tunnel's safety and security shortfalls.
Immediate measures are going to be taken to ensure that the tunnel is equipped with maximum security systems, Antich said.
The Balearic president explained that the tunnel is not the responsibility of the local government but the Insular Council of Majorca which is in charge of roads, but nevertheless, he said that the government is going to take the initiative and resolve the serious problem. But, the report's findings have brought a smirk to the local government's face and during Antich's press conference, his fellow ministers could not hide their smiles in view of the scandal the tunnel caused and how it rocked the Partido Popular. Transport Minister Francesc Quetglas gave his assurances that security will be tightened although he said that just before road management was handed over to the Insular Council of Majorca, the company managing the tunnel had just started work on increasing safety and security measures. Quetglas did reveal that one of the options is to link the road tunnel with the Soller train tunnel 500 metres away with an escape route in the event of an emergency.
But at a cost of between four and five million euros, the Insular Council and the tunnel management company do not consider the project a priority one.
Insular Council engineers inspected the tunnel yesterday and admitted that security measures can, and will, be improved.
Head of international relations for the RACC, the Royal Spanish Automobile Club, Pere Sauert, said yesterday that more emergency exits and lay-byes should be installed as quickly as possible and at a distance of every 500 metres. Director of Tunel de Soller, the company running the concession to manage the tunnel, Jordi Ferrer, said yesterday that the tunnel complies with all the present legislation and claimed that the inspection was carried out in three hours. The risk of an accident similar to the one in the Mont Blanc tunnel happening is practically zero, he said.
Although measures to improve security will be taken if necessary he said.
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