Malaga’s old 'edificio negro' building was painted white in 2015 but maybe it should change its name again, this time to ‘brown building’. The same could be said for the Traffic Department. And the library in Puerto de la Torre. And La Roca health centre. And the city’s three hospitals, some of the university faculty buildings, the old Tabacalera complex, the back of the law courts, and more.
Seven months have passed since the historic ‘muddy rain’ fell in March and stained the buildings orange-brown, but these and hundreds of apartment blocks have still not been cleaned. In the case of private dwellings it is because the cost of cleaning (which could be between 5,000 and 15,000 euros depending on size) was unaffordable, but the clean-up is proving very slow on public buildings.
Those which were originally white – the majority in Malaga – suffered badly from the episode of ‘calima’, which is airborn dust from the Sahara desert. Two of the worst-affected are the former Black Building which houses different regional government departments, and the council offices in the old tobacco factory, Tabacalera. The tower of the Traffic Department turned completely brown, and the lack of rain since then has not helped the situation.
The Clínico hospital, which was painted cream three years ago, is also stained brown and so far the Junta’s Ministry of Health has done nothing to clean it or the Materno Infantil or Regional hospitals, where even some of the signs at the entrances are still covered with mud.
Local residents are becoming resigned to the fact that so many buildings look dirty, but at least there has been progress in some areas: the council is gradually cleaning its 65 blocks of rented social housing. The operation began in June when City Hall awarded a contract for 177,000 euros to a company to clean the outsides of 35 of the blocks which had been worst affected, and these works will take six months to complete. The average cost is 5,000 euros per apartment block.