It was exactly ten years ago since I last entered the compound which, by the end of the year, should house the ‘new’ Orihuela Costa Emergency Centre.

On Wednesday, there was no pomp and ceremony, unlike 2010 on the occasion marked by the burying of a “time capsule”, containing a copy of the Leader Newspaper, local Spanish newspapers, a selection of coins, a CD and certificate detailing the project, signed by the two main dignitaries of the day, the Mayoress of Orihuela, Monica Lorente, and the Interior Minister of the Valencian Community, Serafín Castellano.

A lot of grass has grown in the compound since that day and a lot of excuses have been made by successive councils as to why the delays have occurred.  The bankruptcy of the winning bidder, the necessary modifications to the project, changes in new Contract Law, the processing of the new budget and all of the procedures necessary when dealing with paralysed works, so it was quite uplifting to be in that same enclosure once again, but this time with the belief that the project could finally be coming to an end.

Deadlines for completion of the centre have been extended on seven different occasions, however the latest assurance that we have from the council is that it will be finished by December 2020. I am not so sure, there is a great deal of work to do, but to see the enthusiasm of the contractor, Orihuela Company Doalco, who also built Los Dolses shopping centre, I feel that we are most certainly on the final path.

On Wednesday the mayor of Orihuela, Emilio Bascuñana, and the councillor for Emergencies, Víctor Valverde, met with the contractor on site, both stating that construction on the emergency centre would recommence within the coming few days.

At a cost of 2,064,000 euros (VAT included), Grupo Doalco now have an execution period of 6 months, ending approximately next December which their representatives seemed confident of achieving..

Bascuñana explained, “This was one of the first projects that we faced and the construction would have been faster if the Valencian Government had assumed the execution of the work as originally planned, but as we all know, it took a great deal of time before they finally passed it to the City Council,”

Councillor Valverde said, “we had to start almost from scratch because it was a forgotten project and we had to hold talks with two different administrations to get it off the ground. However, despite all these deviations, after a lot of work and a lot of effort, the project is now a reality and we will see it underway within a few days”.

The mayor said that he wanted to acknowledge the work done by all the engineers, councillors and staff who have finally got us to this point and I want to thank them for their efforts in ensuring that this project can now be completed.”

The Coastal Emergency Centre will house the services of the Civil Guard, National Police, Local Police, a SAMU ambulance, firefighters and also forest brigades, who will serve a stable population of more than 30,000 residents, which in summer grows considerably to over 100,000.

The initial project was for three floors, although that has now been reduced to two. Should it become necessary, the third floor could still be added in the future, however, the cost would have to be borne by the municipal budget.