Being kind, let’s say there were teething troubles. On the other hand, could they not have been anticipated?
On Tuesday, the Formentor traffic restrictions started, and there were additional ones for good measure. The no entry sign was an indication. At the final roundabout on the Puerto Pollensa bypass, it read that there was no entry between 10am and 7pm except to “authorized and bikes”.
There hadn’t been such a sign in the past. That was because there hadn’t been a restriction as far as the hotel and beach. There now was. A main road, and they put up a no entry sign.
The town hall had been particularly keen to see this restriction introduced. It was one thing to prevent whole fleets of hire cars and excursions’ coaches “massifying” the stretch from the hotel to the lighthouse, but what about the road as far as the beach. Chaos, the town hall had complained. And so when Tuesday came, there was new chaos.
It wasn’t the town hall’s fault, as the town hall has no responsibility. It’s a main road, meaning that it’s the Council of Majorca’s domain. Plus the traffic directorate’s. The Council’s roads department doesn’t dish out fines; Trafico does. Ten o’clock, and there were Council operatives still testing out a flashing light to warn of the restriction. Meanwhile, there were no “informants” to be seen.
A literal translation, you get informants for various purposes. There are Covid informants, beach informants, environmental informants. None of them are informants as English understands the word to mean. They don’t dob people in; they are there to inform - information people. But the Formentor informants were not in situ. Despite the no entry sign (except authorized and bikes), the restriction was thus being ignored, until one of the operatives - whose job this wasn’t - took on temporary informant duties. If you drive past the no entry sign and you are neither authorized nor a bike, there will be number-plate readers to catch you out: Trafico’s readers.
How is authorization obtained? Well, this wasn’t new, as the system has operated previously. Send an email to Trafico, giving at least three working days in order to receive permission (you hope). At least they don’t ask for a PCR or antigen test 72 hours in advance as well. There is also, it was discovered, a form of retrospective authorization that the Council of Majorca had failed to tell anyone about. Businesses in Formentor were only to glad to assist as “informants” and to address the Council’s oversight.
If you pass the no entry sign (without authorization) and so run the risk of the number-plate readers and the automatic generation of a fine, you can still pass the no entry sign and not incur a fine so long as you buy, at minimum, a bottle of water from a bar, keep the receipt and fire off an email to Trafico replete with various details and a legible photo of the receipt - within three working days. The Council hadn’t mentioned this possibility. It now does.
The informants, once they had appeared, had themselves seemingly been unaware of this authorization by consumption. Businesses were fully aware, and because of the uproar that ensued on account of the failure to properly inform, it was left to the town hall to hurriedly do so via social media - even though the road, strictly speaking, has nothing to do with the town hall.
Much though one wants to see businesses making money, am I alone in finding this retrospective consumption authorization somewhat bizarre? There again, one could argue that imposing no entry to a main road to take you to the beach and hotel is itself bizarre. But not if one wishes to prevent chaos. Which there was anyway. Teething troubles; it’s getting sorted now.
Meanwhile, there was one private vehicle user who wasn’t resorting to the purchase of a bottle of water trick - the mayor, Tomeu Cifre. He had applied for his car to be one of the “authorized”. No chance, came the Trafico response. Being a mayor isn’t listed among the categories for authorization. Therefore, as he was to note, if he needs, for example, to go and inspect some public works between Puerto Pollensa and the lighthouse, he will have to thumb a lift with the local police, who thankfully are authorized.
Town hall keenness to see traffic restrictions for the whole of the road had obviously overlooked the possibility that these restrictions might in fact apply to the mayor and councillors.