Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sandy Bay works halted as bathers confront contractors

GTB called to intervene

Angry users of Sandy Bay have condemned the start of works to build a protective wall along the length of much of the beach.

When regulars arrived at the beach yesterday, they found a team of workers using a JCB mechanical digger to dig a deep trench stretching from the existing retaining wall and running parallel to the changing rooms.

Concerned about potential safety risks on the busy beach, they alerted the Gibraltar Tourist Board (GTB) and crowded round to stop the workers from proceeding in their task.

They also complained that the ramp at the southern end of Sandy Bay had been dug up, making access for pedestrians difficult and, for vehicles and mothers pushing prams, nigh on impossible.

The GTB despatched product manager Marcelo Sanguinetti to the beach and the works were brought to a halt. Mr Sanguinetti said the contractor had been told it could not proceed with the job during the bathing season and that the trench was to be filled in. At around 6.30pm in the evening, the digger was ordered back down to the beach to cover up the hole.

Ángel Espina, a manager for the contractor, told the Chronicle that the works would now be put on hold until after the bathing season. He said the project had two main aims, the first to build a barrier along the beach to minimise the erosion of the sea on the buildings at Both Worlds.

The second element is to repair and widen the ramp at the southern end of the beach, particularly in order to allow easy access to emergency vehicles.

While regular users have been calling for this for some time, yesterday they were critical of the contractor’s decision to start the task in August when the beach is busy on a daily basis.

Even so, while members of the public use the hill routinely to make their way down to the beach – it is the only way vehicles and prams can reach the shore - the ramp is in fact part of Both Worlds and as such private property.

The problem for the contractor, Sr Espina said, is that the repairs on the ramp cannot proceed until the works on the beach, which is a public area, are completed and the JCB moved back from the shoreline. That means the entire project could remain paused until after the summer.

In the meantime, a safety fence will be erected around the dug-up ramp area to ensure no one gets hurt inadvertently. That, however, will probably mean users will only be able to access Sandy Bay via the steps at the northern end of the beach.

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