File photograph at Algeciras Port. / EFE

Thousands of extra cars and vans expected on the Costa's roads this summer as Operation Crossing the Strait resumes

After a break of two years due to the Covid pandemic and the diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco, the traffic authorities are warning that this year is likely to be busier than ever before

IGNACIO LILLO Malaga

In the next few days thousands of vehicles with French, Belgian, German and other European registration plates will be on the roads of Malaga province. Although Operation Crossing the Strait officially began on Wednesday 15 June, the end of the month is expected to mark the start of a particularly busy period as people drive from other parts of Europe to ports in southern Spain to catch a ferry to visit their families in North Africa.

They have not been able to do so for two years, partly because of the coronavirus pandemic and also because of the diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco, so a record number of travellers are expected to make the crossing this summer.

One of the marquees for vehicles which are waiting to embark in Malaga. / ñito salas

Malaga province is affected in two ways. First because Malaga Port is a popular choice from which to cross to Melilla. In 2019 over 66,000 people and 14,000 passengers used the ferries from Malaga and this year the figures are expected to be considerably higher, at 100,000 passengers and 20,000 cars and vans.

The second reason is that the main roads in the province, including Las Pedrizas motorway, the Malaga bypasses and the roads on the Costa del Sol are the main route for travellers heading for the ports of Tarifa and Algeciras, and this is the route that most of them will take. This year, the authorities are expecting 2.3 million people and 534,734 vehicles to make the trip.

Busiest days

The Traffic authorities say the roads are likely to be especially busy on 8 and 9 July and from 29 July to 1 August. Rest areas have been set up beside many of the main roads so drivers can take a break.

In Malaga, the Port Authority has set aside an area covering nearly 13,000 square metres in San Andrés area, with another two areas which can be used if necessary. Two marquees have been put up to provide shade for the vehicles while they wait to embark, and a third for passengers. These areas have WCs, a children’s play area and water fountains. There are also showers and baby changing facilities.