By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
PALMA'S new metro has hit the buffers again just as engineers enter the final phase of repairing the service after it was brought to a premature halt by serious flooding last year.

This morning, engineers are due to start work on plugging the leaks in the section of the metro that was opened in April but has yet to come into full operation and that runs under the Son Castello industrial estate.

The flood plain and drainage systems also have to be replaced to prevent any further flooding above or below ground.
But, yesterday, businesses on the industrial estate called for either a delay or prolongation of the repair work in order to avoid traffic chaos on Palma's largest retail park.

15 '000 people commute to the estate every day, with another 15'000 expected in the future, and the vice president of the Majorcan industrial association, Asima, Francisco Vidal, warned the Balearic government that traders do not want a repeat of the 18 months of traffic chaos caused when the metro was built through the area in the first place.

He said business was hit by the building project and that most retailers would prefer the work to take six months as opposed to four if that would reduce disruption on the industrial estate.

The Director General for Transport, Antoni Verger, yesterday gave government assurances that every effort is going to be taken to keep disruption to a minimum, and that the association's demands that work along the estate's two principal roads not be carried out simultaneously will be given serious consideration.

If Asima gets its way, then the metro, the construction of which went 100 million euros over budget, may finally start running properly some 10 months after its initial start date.

The opposition Partido Popular, responsible for the white elephant, said yesterday that further delays in carrying out the repairs are political and not necessary.

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