Problems seem to be affecting the border of Gibraltar again although hopefully a solution is in sight. It took up to seven hours to cross the border through the gate of Gibraltar on the evening between Monday and Tuesday. Stephen Payas, a manager of La Roca was coming from Malaga airport on his way home. Payas attributes these lengthy delays to work being done in the customs offices to avoid delays. The improvements were agreed after a group from the European Commission visited Gibraltar this past July, due to delays when going through customs.
To exit the Rock, there are six traffic lanes that merge into two: first there is passport control, then the actual British customs. Upon arriving on the Spanish side there are two lanes as well, one green for those who have nothing to declare and one red, for those who have to declare goods. When a car is stopped under suspicion of entering contraband –points Payas-, the car is not moved to the red lane, which greatly hinders the normal traffic flow.
Considering that in the Rock there are over 5000 Spanish workmen with a contract and twice as many nationals that in one way or another, work in Gibraltar, it is easy to understand the worry about the delays and waiting times to get in and out. Normally, in an ordinary procedure it takes around half an hour to cross the border.
The Association of Spanish Workers in Gibraltar thinks that the situation is “cruel and inhuman”. “Can you imagine coming home from work and you are retained for four hours?” asks Juan José Uceda, delegate of this association for Gibraltar. “There is no awareness in the rest of Spain of what takes place at the border because there is political blindness” he continues. “It is not a problem of tobacco smuggling, the amount that passes through here is negligible when compared to the rest of Spain”. He does not think that the long delays happening lately have anything to do with construction works to improve and make the custom offices bigger. “Gibraltar proposed it some time before the European Commission visit, and Spain never even bothered to answer".
Salvador Molina Sánchez, president of Ascteg agrees. “There is a lot of talk about the money that escapes to Gibraltar, but little about the Spanish workers that live in Spain who bring six million euros every month, seventy two million a year”. “The facts are clear, he says; if you multiply an average of one thousand two hundred euros a month times almost five thousand Spaniards living in Gibraltar”. “They should not treat us this way, and the same problem affects Portuguese workers who are working there”.
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