Public Works Minister Mabel CabrerStaff Reporter
MABEL Cabrer could go down in history as the regional minister who built the largest number of highways in the least possible time.
In this interview, the head of the Balearic government's Public Works department defends the planned Inca to Manacor dual carriageway, saying that the projects she wants to see completed will provide a sound highway infrastructure for the island for the next 50 years. l DO those who are protesting against the highway projects have nothing better to do?
Those who are against the motorway simply because of their ideology don't have a great deal to do. Our electoral programme was very clear. We will take into account the objections of those people who are alarmed by what the protesters are saying. I give my assurance. l Wouldn't it have been better for the Manacor highway to be built further over on the Eastern side of the island rather than going through Inca?
No, not at all. The project is fundamentally important for the district of Manacor and a solution had to be found. The Inca-Manacor alternative will, in time, prove to have been the best solution from the point of view of respecting the environment; it means being able to make the most of an already-existing road. l Do you believe that the anti-dual carriageway lobby are twisting public opinion?
Yes, I'm convinced they have done it. People should know that the strips of land in reserve that are pencilled on the plans have nothing to do with the project that finally gets built. It is for this reason that people get worried. They were thinking that all the earmarked land would be taken by the government and that they would receive no money in compensation. The Inca-Manacor plans are now in their final stages, and the lack of legal objections, as opposed to protest signatures, show the reality of the project being accepted by the people who will be directly affected. There are people who are satisfied, but there are also those who don't want the dual carriageway but I am quite certain that no one who has had land expropriated has suffered any hardship. l Will compensation for expropriation be dealt with quickly?
Yes, the process will be a speedy one.
Works on the Inca and Llucmajor bypasses will be honoured very soon and the project only got off the ground a few months ago. Some people have been only too willing to ask for all of their country estates to be bought by the government. l Is the second Palma ringroad really necessary?
Of course it is. There are people who don't want to come to Palma and they feel forced to use the already-existing ringroad due to the lack of a second one. The first one is so heavily used that it jams up; another one is essential. l Do you already know what measures will be included in the government's Housing plan?
We've already drawn up our projections but they've got to be debated in regional parliamentary sessions. The plan includes the development of considerable tracts of land but there's a lack of money. To keep house prices steady requires a great deal of subsidy, but I can assure you that it is a very ambitious, but necessary project. l Are you able to predict whether house prices will continue to rise in the Balearics?
It's difficult to make an accurate assessment of the future but the increase in prices made itself felt here within a short period of time. Within the space of four years, value of property has doubled, which seems to be almost absurd. The main aim now is to contain further increases, and if prices go down, so much the better. l Are our trains safe?
Yes, they are safe but there are many deficiencies that have to be addressed. The challenge is for us to enable the railways to provide a quality service. Of course, we can open up lines but the important thing is to make sure that what we are offering functions well. l Does it bother you that your department's declared commitment to a Public Inter-Island Air Service has been met with such scant enthusiasm?
Yes, because the facts have been distorted for political reasons. I am sure that the investment that central government has made in this area has been a great success because prices have come down. Remember that prices on these routes had doubled within the space of four years.
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