A car leaving a remote mountain road (perhaps no more than a single-carriage dirt track) to crash down the mountainside with potentially tragic consequences is sadly a well-known possibility, particularly when the weather is very bad and if there are no safety measures on the road.
However, one might be horrified to learn, that in this day and age, the same event could happen on an urbanisation; but that is exactly what happened recently on the Urb Monte Pego, situated between Denia and Pego in the Alicante Province on October 18th 2017. It was not the first time such a tragedy had happened there, and it is unlikely to be the last unless drastic action is taken. But the real tragedy? It was entirely preventable.
The history of this urbanisation is key to the understanding of this event. Pego Town Hall gave permission in 1974 to Snr. Juan Antonio Ivars Bertomeu known as Juan Porsellanes to begin the project. It expanded into Rafol and Denia areas and over the years has grown now to some 1,300 dwellings.
But when the time came for the urbanisation to become public there began a legal dispute between the Town Halls involved and the developer over whether the urbanisation had been completed to the correct standard.
When Snr Juan Posellanes passed away in 2011 the Town Halls passed the responsibility onto the company that now belonged to the family, forgetting their responsibilities for the residents living there. This dispute remains unresolved to this day. In all those years, as confirmed by the former Mayor of Pego, Carmelo Ortola, “not one cent” [of the resident’s suma] has been spent on providing basic services to the urbanisation.
As in many urbanisations caught in such an impasse, disowned and neglected, the residents feel powerless. The many legal judgements handed down by the courts over the years have no effect, and are ignored in favour of more litigation. Or the developers declare themselves bankrupt, but still trade, and all this time the many and various infrastructures deteriorate – in this case particularly, the roads.
Any work to rectify them – other than painting a few lines on the roads – has now been blocked by the Town Hall lawyers, who clearly rule the administration rather than the Mayor, and are the only winners here.
The urbanisation’s roads have never been “safe” in any known sense. There are blind corners with sheer drops and only grass to stop a car. Crash barriers have never existed on these mountain roads, only some small and ineffectual concrete posts that with a good push would fall over.
Safety has now further deteriorated with the bushes and grass at the roadside becoming so overgrown that they reduce the width of the roads and the visibility. Accidents are just waiting to happen. Residents have even documented the safety concerns and shared them with local and regional Mayors, but nothing changes.
And the outcome of the accident? The car flattened a bollard, plunged 50 metres down the mountain and landed on its side. The driver miraculously escaped with minor injuries only. Even if it had ended very differently, would the attitudes of the Town Halls and developer now change, or would they still hide behind their lawyers?
The suspicion amongst residents is that if history is a pointer nothing will change, lives will still be at risk and this will not be a defining moment.