Ricardo Criado can't catch the train at his nearest station, which is Carvajal, a district in Fuengirola. There are 119 steps up to the platform and Ricardo, who uses an electric wheelchair, can't get up them. Nor is he the only person affected. You only have to climb the stairs once to realise that they pose a problem for all but the fittest passengers.
The station platform at Carvajal, like the one at Torreblanca, is not accessible to everybody. Exactly one year ago complaints from residents led the Ciudadanos spokesman in Fuengirola, Javier Toro, to present a motion to ask the Ministry of Public Works to solve this problem. However, even though all the political parties on the council voted in favour, the Spanish government appears to be ignoring a situation which affects at least 2,000 people who live in the area.
“The law says the main entrance to a railway station has to be accessible,” says Ricardo. There is another access, higher up, but he can't use that one either. “I can't get up there or down again in a wheelchair. This is affecting my life and it isn't right, not only for me but for people with prams, for example, or tourists who arrive from the airport with a suitcase,” he says.
The president of the local residents' association, Eladia Pabón, says very few people can climb the 119 stairs without difficulty, especially if they are carrying something. “And also if it is windy or raining, it's not only difficult but dangerous as well,” she insists.
“People in the area have been complaining about this for years, because the accesses just aren't acceptable. In addition, the lighting is inadequate and the pavement is falling to pieces,” says Javier Toro about the stations, which he describes as“a complete failure in terms of accessibility.”
“Over a year ago we presented a motion to demand that the Ministry of Public Works, Adif and Renfe take urgent action to ensure that these stations are accessible to everybody,” he explains.
He points out that the fact that the motion was supported by all the groups on the council and approved unanimously shows how serious the problem is.
Over a year later, he is critical of the lack of action. “Torreblanca and Carvajal are urban areas with a large population now and they need proper station facilities which have been adapted for those with disabilities, like the ones in other parts of Fuengirola: Los Boliches, for example,” he says.
Raised in parliament
The frustration about the lack of action is so great that the Ciudadanos and PSOE parties on Fuengirola council decided that the matter should be raised with the Spanish parliament. Malaga MP Miguel Ángel Heredia was due to ask the Minister for Public Works this week why the accesses to the stations are so inadequate, what measures are being taken to rectify the situation, when they would be carried out and how much they would cost.