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The Willow in its current state of deterioration. L. Cádiz
Iconic Willow steamboat faces last summer in Benalmádena marina, if all goes according to plan
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Iconic Willow steamboat faces last summer in Benalmádena marina, if all goes according to plan

The Mississippi River vessel has been deteriorating half-sunk in the port for five years but, during its time in the port, it has been a nightclub, restaurant and even a clandestine hostess club

Lorena Cádiz

Benalmádena

Monday, 3 June 2024, 14:26

Opciones para compartir

The bureaucratic phase is currently under way to assign a specialist company to prepare the study that details the dismantling process of the troubled Willow steamboat. The deadline is open on the state contracting platform for the presentation of offers by companies interested in putting an end to this legendary vessel, which has been half-sunk in the Benalmádena marina for five years and is in a very advanced state of deterioration, which requires urgent measures to avoid possible dangerous problems.

Companies interested in this contract, which has an assigned budget of more than 250,000 euros, have until 18 June to submit their offers. If everything goes to plan and without unforeseen circumstances, this could happen by the beginning of summer, a bad date to start work of this nature in one of the busiest tourist spots in the municipality.

Port councillor José Luis Bergillos said the plan is, if the contract is formalised before July, to divide the process into two. The first stage would be carried out as soon as an agreement is reached with the company and would consist of scrapping “what is above water due to the danger of collapse that exists”.

He added that due to the condition of the vessel, the different levels could collapse “with unforeseeable consequences,” taking into account that the steel beams and pillars “are very corroded”. Hence, a first phase of scrapping is proposed in which the most urgent elements will be removed while causing “the least possible inconvenience”. The rest of the vessel would be removed once autumn begins and the influx of visitors to the area decreases.

The councillor pointed out that if the contract is not formalised before July, the entire process will be left until autumn.

A long career

However, one thing seems certain. The Willow, built at the beginning of the 20th century to sail the Mississippi River, and which for almost three decades has been an icon of Benalmádena and the Costa del Sol, faces its final months in the port. During its time in the marina, the Willow has been a nightclub, a restaurant, and even a clandestine hostess club. Before its collapse due to a storm, it was already in an obvious state of deterioration due to lack of maintenance.

Who will have to bear the cost of scrapping?

It remains to be seen who will finally assume the cost of this entire operation, pending the resolution of the judicial process currently in progress between the Benalmádena town hall and the owner.

A process began in 2020, when the company filed a lawsuit in which it claimed 13.6 million euros from the port authorities and the council based on an alleged million-dollar rental contract with a third party, signed in 2017.

The court originally ruled partly in favour of the company that owned the Willow, although of the initial amount claimed, it ordered the council to pay 400,000 euros to the owner for the losses caused after its sinking, a decision that was appealed by the local authority. The provincial court finally reduced the amount to be paid by the council to just 4,000 euros and demanded that the boat be removed from the port before 26 April 2023, something that, obviously, did not happen.

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