BALEARIC Transport minister, Gabriel Vicens claimed yesterday that having received the second stage of a report on the state of Palma's metro, currently closed because of major deficiencies, he was able to state that the service had been opened almost a year before structural works were due for final completion. The Ministry has said that the metro will not now be open as a public service until April next year, at the earliest.
The metro in Palma go off to a bad start this year after it was opened in April this year as a flagship project of the previous Balearic government under Partido Popular president Jaume Matas. When the Socialists came to power after regional elections last May, the metro proved it was not able to handle periods of heavy rainfall as it had to be closed indefinitely in September due to serious flooding after strong storms hit Palma on more than one occasion.
Vincens was speaking yesterday after the second stage of a technical audit on the metro had been completed to find out to just what extent the infrastructure needed to be overhauled before it could be opened to the public once more. The minister expressed his indignation that a public service had been opened for use without proper operational guarantees having been put in place. He added that the smiling photo of ex-President Jaume Matas officially opening the metro had cost the citizens of Palma plenty of headaches. The minister claimed that to open the installations in such an incomplete condition was an act of political irresponsibility and that it was now no use the current leader of the Opposition Partido Popular, Mabel Cabrer, saying that the Socialists were panicking about a leak of a few drops of water which could be cleared up within a week.
Vicens said that Cabrer, who had been regional minister for Public Works in the previous Balearic administration, had been insulting the intelligence of people who used the metro in Palma by using such terminology and asked her to give a serious explanation of how the public service is in such a poor operational state so soon after opening. Vincens said that in his opinion, not all 23 contractors who worked on the metro project could be wrong. The minister said that the deficiencies in Palma's metro are amounting to highly serious architectural and structural faults but the cost to correct past mistakes is impossible to quantify at the moment. He has meanwhile asked for a special Parliamentary hearing to be scheduled to explain the details of the audit finding to all members. Transport deputy Antoni Verger asked just who is responsible for the non-functioning of the metro - the project workers or ex-minister Cabrer - and said that the 312 million euros which was paid out of citizen's taxes for the metro proved to be an expensive opening photo.