Victims of our own success

How many more new residents will fit before the province bursts at the seams?

IGNACIO LILLO

Back in December we reported that an international ranking had placed Malaga as the second best city in the world for foreign residents. The first was Kuala Lumpur, and look how far away Malaysia is. This week, my colleague Antonio Javier López has written about official INE statistics that highlight the boom in the area - Malaga is the Spanish province that has gained the most population during the pandemic. No fewer than 17,247 individuals have become Malagueños by choice in just 18 months and the population has surpassed the 1.7-million mark for the first time in history.

At first glance, it's all local pride and chest-beating... 'Malaga is the best place in the world to live, Paradise on earth and now they're discovering what we Malaga natives knew already.' I echo that very Andalusian phrase, 'To er mundo e güeno' (There's good in everybody), coined decades ago by a group of neighbours in Malaga, and it means that all those who want to enjoy, share and work in this blessed land are welcome.

However, once that Malagueño pride has calmed down, something more worrying remains, and a question begs an answer: How many more new residents will fit before the province bursts at the seams? There are already signs of this in terms of traffic and the return of bottlenecks, pressing water shortages and exorbitant house prices, which point to the fact that saturation could be close.

The people of Malaga, at least those of us who are concerned about these kinds of issues, are not fickle; we have not been asking for years for new works just for the sake of asking, and of course in Malaga not everything has been done, as some politicians would have us believe to justify the lack of investment. The province urgently needs infrastructure to support a population growth that is unparalleled in all of Spain, as the official data clearly shows.

We need to get back the trains that have been taken away from us and extend the line to Mijas and Marbella, because that is where the demand is growing the most. We need drinking water without having to continually look to the sky in the hope of rain - we are overdue a desalination plant for the Axarquía area. We need water treatment plants so as not to pollute the sea, which is our main source of income, and new roads to relieve the sharp increase in the number of residents in the east side of Malaga city.

We go on about sustainability, but it is totally unsustainable to continue to grow at this rate in Malaga without having adequate infrastructure. If not, we'll soon be victims of our own success...