End of towers marks the start of economic era

news: End of towers marks the start of economic era

TRÓIA’S BEST known landmark, its two enormous towers that loom over the coastline, were due to be brought to the ground this week (Thursday, September 8) to make way for a multimillion euro tourism project from the Sonae Group.

The towers were allowed to fall into a state of serious disrepair and, although in the seventies they hosted fashionable accommodation for tourists, recently their only occupants were bats.

Sonae, owner of Modelo and Continente supermarkets, hotels, shopping centres and a telecommunications company, among other businesses, saw the potential for the site and, once the towers had been demolished, work will begin on a major tourism complex worth 37.4 million euros that will create 10,000 jobs for the area.

At the time of going to press, preparations were in full swing for Thursday’s demolition and large black strips could clearly be seen marking the towers, which were believed to be straps of explosives.

In a communication released by the office of the Civil Governor of Setúbal, it stated that the Tróia-Comporta road, from the crossroads with the access road to the military compound and to the ferry terminal, would be closed from 5am until 6pm, and the ferry service suspended. It was also confirmed that the beaches of Tróia-Rio, Tróia-Mar, Bico das Lulas and Tróia Galé would be closed on the day the towers were to be demolished. Access to the whole Tróia peninsular area would be heavily restricted. The northern line defined by the military compounds, access road and from the beginning of the Estrada 253-1 until the old campsite and northern limit would be closed all day on Thursday, when the Verde Mar and T04 towers were brought to the ground at 4pm.

Owners of houses and apartments located on the perimeter of the peninsular would be allowed access to their homes until 1pm on Thursday. Local residents were provided with masks to cover their noses and mouths in order to avoid dust inhalation, which otherwise could cause respiratory problems following the demolition.

English experts consulted

Sonae has contracted a Portuguese firm to carry out the demolition, but it has been reported that experts from England were consulted on the most suitable methods to be employed for the job, which could prove extremely hazardous if not executed correctly. Heavy policing and large military numbers would be present in the area to ensure the public’s safety.

Prime Minister to attend

The flattening of the towers was expected to take around two hours and, as it would be quite a spectacle, many people will likely come out of their homes to watch. In Setúbal, the recommended viewing point was from alongside Barreira – Escarpas de S. Nicolau, meanwhile in Grândola, Sonae promised to provide a big screen so that locals could watch the demolition live!

Such is the occasion – a moment seen as the start of a brighter economic future for the area – that Prime Minister José Sócrates reported to have confirmed his presence at the ‘show’.

A recycling plan has been drawn up to deal with the debris, however, environmental organisation Quercus has been raising doubts as to what will happen with the iron.

Bats are on the move

The greatest concern, and the issue that has attracted the most publicity, is the fate of the Rabudo bats, which have been living on the seventh floor of the T04 tower. It is a rare breed and experts were very surprised to find a colony in Tróia!

This rare species must be protected and a new home was built for the bats near the towers, although its dimensions are obviously very different from their residence in the tower, which was, of course, much taller.

Francisco Ferreira of Quercus is raising doubts that the bats will take to their new home: “I think that very few bats will accept this change,” he says. The job of transporting the bats to their new home was recently carried out by the Instituto de Conservação da Natureza (ICN) and the Instituto do Mar (Imar).

It remains to be seen if the bats have settled there and staff from the institutes were expected to visit the tower prior to the demolition, to check that no bats had returned to their old home.

Major step forward

With regard to the future, the tourist development that will be constructed by the Sonae Group is set to house five hotels, two of which will be five star, a casino, congress centre, residential development, riding centre and a water park.

The project is expected to increase the employment rate in the boroughs of Grândola, Alcácer do Sal and Setúbal by eight per cent.

The President of Grândola Câmara, Carlos Beato, is clearly delighted by the project, saying: “I hope and I would very much like for this project to be the motor for the whole of the Alentejo coastland.”