The Mario López shipyard, in Malaga. / SUR

Not a city for factories

One of Spain's most important companies in the naval sector is leaving Malaga after half a century in the city

IGNACIO LILLO

The Mario López shipyard is leaving the Port of Malaga. In the water of the dock, which is already smooth as a sheet of glass without ships or floating docks, the hopes of those of us who believe that Malaga should recover a minimum industrial capacity to balance its productive economy, beyond tourism, construction and technology, are disappearing fast... And thank God we have them, but losing one of the few heavy industry factories we had left should give us cause for thought.

Mario López is leaving the city that half a century ago saw the birth of his company, now one of the most important in the Spanish naval sector, and although this may seem like an Andalusian exaggeration, it is absolutely true. He is leaving, first of all, because he can: his Cernaval shipyard in Campamento, next to San Roque, is the real heart of the company, and there he has several dry docks and floating docks where the cargo ships and container ships of the largest shipping companies in the world are repaired and overhauled. To give just one example, in the recent maritime accident in Gibraltar, the ship involved that was left afloat was repaired there.

He also left because the Malaga shipyard had been pushed into a corner, with hardly any space on land due to the imminent start of the office project at the Heredia dock; but neither did it have room on the water to berth the ships that were going to be repaired. He was offered to redirect his activity to the maintenance of megayachts, but the businessman could not see it, among other things, because cleaning one of these ships from the dust that the nearby bulk cargoes give off is worth almost more than the repairs that he could be commissioned to carry out. Nor can it be overlooked that the main activity he had been able to achieve until now, that of small and medium-sized ships, has been in decline.

I am sure there are other reasons that escape me, but, in short, he is leaving now because it was the right time to do so by mutual and amicable agreement, just when the Port Authority needed to gain space on the docks for the new maritime freight line with Tangier that is about to arrive.

Over and above the, shall we say, direct causes, there is another one that underlies them all: Malaga wants to be more like Palma and less like Bilbao. In the city model that has been chosen, the scarce and sought-after productive space is reserved for megayachts and luxury hotels, expos in 2027 and lots of flats? But just as that country in the film was not for old people, Malaga is not a city for factories...