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The iconic Willow has been half-sunken for five years. SUR
Willow, the iconic Mississippi paddle steamer in Benalmádena marina, finally set to be removed and scrapped
Legal dispute

Willow, the iconic Mississippi paddle steamer in Benalmádena marina, finally set to be removed and scrapped

The town hall estimates the process, which will take around 120 days, will cost more than 90,500 euros. However, it remains to be seen who will ultimately pay the cost...

Lorena Cádiz

Benalmádena

Monday, 11 March 2024

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After several years of uncertainty, and a lengthy legal battle, Benalmádena town hall has started the process to remove and scrap the iconic Willow steamboat from its berth in the Puerto Marina. The owners of the paddle steamer, which had been badly damaged by a storm and had remained partially submerged for five years, had been ordered to remove the vessel, although they failed to meet the deadline in April last year.

Built in the beginning of the 20th century to sail the Mississippi river, the Willow had spent almost three decades in the Costa del Sol town, where it had been used as a nightclub, a restaurant, and even a clandestine hostess club.

What could have been a source of pride - since it was one of the few historic steamboats berthed in a European port - became a problem, aggravated by a long legal battle between the town hall and the company that owns the boat.

The council has now put out to tender the drafting of the project for the dismantling operation, a project that takes into account all the necessary safety measures, as well as “the means to be used for the prevention of marine pollution and waste management”.

The council claims the process, which will take around 120 days, will cost more than 90,500 euros. However, it remains to be seen who will ultimately assume the cost of the entire operation, pending the resolution of the current judicial process.

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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