Now that the summer is effectively over and the weather is beginning to cool, Torrevieja and La Mata shopkeepers are redoubling their efforts to rid the streets of the current proliferation of so-called “manteros” and the “organised groups of illegal street vendors”.
Until a few days ago their presence was mainly confined to the beaches where they sold products ranging from footwear to sports equipment and sun wear, illegal copies of shoes and well-known sports brands, even jewellery, clothes and fruit and veg.
Torrevieja’s president of the Association of Small and Medium-sized Traders (APYMECO), David Sánchez, has been critical of their presence since July, when his organisation issued a statement denouncing the massive presence along promenades and beaches in the illegal sale of products.
He said that Torrevieja City Council “has not done anything about it” to dissuade these people who have now moved their businesses onto the streets, with little police presence to dissuade them from doing so. “The problem is far more serious than the police are giving it credit. It is an endemic problem that is causing serious damage and untold losses to many existing legal businesses, damage that they really cannot afford or sustain.
Sanchez now demands “urgent and drastic measures” from the city council and the police the illegal traders cause seriously damage to the businesses of Torrevieja that cannot be reversed. “My members religiously pay their taxes,” he said, pointing once again that the local administration has failed to provide answers to the formal complaints.
Having already suffered with the economic crisis of recent years, the damage being caused by illegal traders to genuine businesses is, without a doubt, another problem for those shopkeepers who have been able to survive. For all these reasons, the president of APYMECO urges the merchants to report, as many times as is necessary, the presence of these manteros in their areas to ensure that the Local Police are at least out on the streets.
Since 2012, when the Torrevieja City Council first introduced the Operational Reinforcement Group, one of its many tasks has been the control of illegal street vendors and the seizure of counterfeit products in the main tourist areas of the city, especially along the seafront in Juan Aparicio and La Cura beach. The responsibility should also extend to in the beach at La Mata, although there have been hardly any visits of the GRO during the summer season.
Following their clampdown 2 or 3 years ago the GRO now seems to have taken their eye off the problem as a result of which it is once again close to reaching epidemic proportions, another season of which will undoubtedly result in the closure of many more Torrevieja businesses.