6 Year Temporary AFA Site ; Pestana Plan For Marina Site ; 2 New Roads In Funchal

(26th September). Today’s main news headline, and also the main photo, shows a beautiful landscape blighted by ugly yellow storage tanks and a black barrier : ‘Temporary’ For Six Years – The site in Meia Légua occupies more than half a kilometre extended. Quercus alerts : The safety of the town of Ribeira Brava is in danger’. The facility, towards the narrow end of Ribeira Brava valley and alongside the access road to Serra de Água, was started in 2003 and completed and inaugurated in 2004. It is in effect, a builders yard, belonging to the construction giant AFA. But it has now grown to over half a kilometre long. The excuse of the government for the site being there for so long, is that it is intended to build a walkway on the left hand side between Ponte Vermelha and the via rápida junction, with the delay blamed on the compulsory purchase of land not being completed. The AFA site is not only a blot on the landscape, but it occupies a strategically important site, that allows central access to all parts of Madeira. The assurance is given is that as soon as work is complete on the via expresso road, the site permit will be withdrawn. That could be a long way off with the stretch between Meia Légua and Serra de Água still outstanding. The president of Ribeira Brava council showed some discontent with the situation, but refuses to get involved in what is a matter of regional government. The environmental agency Quercus says that the site poses a danger to Ribeira Brava town, as long heavy rain could flood the river and site, taking materials downstream into the town.

‘MAC Exposes Illiteracy In Youngsters That Went To School’. The Apostolate Movement for Children (MAC) has exposed the cases of youngsters, now 18, 19, or 20 years old, who went to school but forgot everything they learned. Some cannot understand a simple SMS text message, or even sign their name. One teacher is now voluntarily giving weekend lessons to help these people, in what the teachers union describes as a “dramatic situation”. A spokesperson for MAC says that they had access to school, but because they were rebellious or had behavioural problems, stayed away, or just forgot. Not knowing how to read or write at 18, 19 or 20 years is a worrying development, stresses the coordinator of the Teachers Union of Madeira. Strangely, there are no numbers given, but MAC say it doesn’t have sufficient volunteer teaching resources available to adequately manage the situation. 

‘Pestana Group Awaits For The Court In Order To Enter Lugar de Baixo [marina] – Works will move forward one year after the decision of the Constitutional Court’. The administrator of the the Madeiran Pestana group says that there is no doubt: “The project of the Marina of Lugar de Baixo interests the Pestana Group, provided that it adopts to the philosophy that we stand for”. A year has passed since the announcement of an agreement in principle between Pestana and The Development Society of Ponta Oeste, to form a company that will progress the concept through to the construction of a tourist hotel on the marina site. “We’ve already done the outline of a project and have presented a mock-up to the regional government. We will build it on stilts and redimension [the marina?], because we want a hotel of only 80 to 100 guest rooms”. The option to use stilts reflects the continued concern about the invasion of the sea in times of bad weather, and the project will downsize the marina to little over one hundred berths. The group is waiting for the court to decide on some litigation issues before it can proceed, particularly on the change of use of the marina zone and the rights for private development, and will then need around a year to prepare the plans. The intention is to develop the project in phases, that could extend the total development time for up to ten years. The marina at Lugar de Baixo is the biggest political embarrassment for the Madeira Government, because the investment of €32 million is of no use because the designer did not consider the actual conditions for sea waves in that area, resulting in the sea at times engulfing and destroying the infrastructure. To use it as a marina, it will need millions of Euros spent on improving the protection zone.

Today’s sport / football headline : ‘Naval Battle’ Decisive For Carvalhal – The Marítimo Coach complains about a lack of efficiency in his attack but, in today’s game he is only going to change the defence’.

If anyone is interested, the league game between Benfica and Leixões is on RTP 1 at 9.15 pm tonight. Should be good for a few goals, or famous last words?

In entertainment : ‘Madeiran Theatre Sets Upon The Câmara – The amount paid for ‘Calcinhas Amarelas’ stirs controversy’. The comedy play ‘The Yellow Panties”, by José Vilhena, with the participation of Tozé Martin (from TEZEEME Productions), currently playing, is causing some upset amongst other producers in the region. At issue is the value of the contract between Funchal Council and TEZEEME Productions, of € 87.500. The council say that it is only €62,500, taking into account the receipts from ticket sales. Nether the less, it has rankled in theatrical quarters the fact that an outside production has attracted extensive funding, when there are theatrical and cultural groups much closer to home that can’t get the financial assistance they need.

‘Machico In Festival Starting On The 28th – Astronomy, music, exhibitions and sport highlight the Festas do Concelho’. The celebration lasts from Monday until 13th October, to mark the day of Machico district. FESTA PROGRAMME

A 39 year old man died yesterday after being taken to hospital, after he was run over on the via rápida near the school Horácio Bento Gouveia in Funchal. Having been hit by one car, he was then hit by a second surprised driver. After the rescue, firemen had to go out and clean up the area. That’s the 14th road death so far this year. In another incident last night near the Savoy Hotel in Funchal, two women aged 74 and 79 were caught in a ‘hit and run’ case and taken to hospital with grazing, but police have information about the vehicle responsible.

A power cut affected the whole of Madeira early yesterday morning, at around 3 am, for around 40 minutes for some, longer for many. A cable fault was responsible, causing a system overload. The Diário curiously has a picture of Madeira at night, either without a power cut, or teaming with fire flies.

‘Avenida do Amparo Eases Traffic In The West – Road inaugurated yesterday cost €10.5 million and connects Nazaré to the [estrada] monumental’. Government officials were out in force for the opening (can’t imagine why that would be?). Access to the via rápida for those in the west will now be much easier. The new road has two lanes in each direction and extends to 1.2 km.

The pope is to visit Portugal in May next year, but no there is no indication that he will visit Madeira. It will be the first time that Papa Bento XVI has visited Portugal.

The 1.5 km connection between the roundabout at Funchal Port and Pilar will be inaugurated next Friday. It includes the tunnel of ‘Pontinha’ which is nearly 700 metres long, and a new rebuilt bridge .

‘The First Vaccines Against Gripe A Arrive In Portugal Starting On 12th October – Deliveries are going to be phased weekly in proportion to the delivery made’. The pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is to share it’s production releases of Pandremrix amongst countries that have ordered, proportioned according to the amount ordered in total. Portugal ordered 6 million vaccines, in theory enough to immunize at least 3 million people, at a cost of €45 million. It may be that one vaccine dose per person will suffice, but that is still to be determined. Pregnant women and children over 6 months old will be the first to benefit, with children receiving half the adult dosage.

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