Often, when the residents of the elegant district of Salamanca come across the cleaning and gardening vehicles of the Madrid City Council, they shout at them that those old pots fill their streets with black smoke. In this wealthy district it is common to hear the electric hum of clean motors that cost money.
That is why the traca-traca-traca of trucks with more than 20 years old is attracting more and more attention. Maxime, if we take into account that these municipal vehicles have a sign on their side that says very large: “Environment” and also that in 2023, thousands of Madrid owners of polluting cars can no longer enter the neighborhoods inside the M -30 nor drive on that road.
When the drivers of those cleaning or gardening cars come across one of those neighbors, they reply: “We are exempt!”
And it’s true. Those old City Council cars have carte blanche to continue providing their service within the M-30 despite their toxic fumes. But it is also true that in 2021 the Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida City Council tendered new green area cleaning and maintenance contracts that required the winning companies that all vehicles be new and carry environmental labels. And this requirement is not being met even though almost 15 months have passed since the contracts were formalized.
At the base on the outskirts of Madrid where one of the cleaning and gardening companies operates, the workers joked this Monday about their work tools.
They are employees of Valoriza, one of the companies of the construction giant Sacyr that is in charge of several central districts (Retiro, Salamanca, Arganzuela and Chamartin). Many of the vehicles with which they operate have license plates that begin with the letters B or C, which began to circulate between the year 2000 and 2004. The workers have protested to the company because they consider that some vehicles are not in a condition to continue circulating. but it hasn’t helped. They have answered that they have the ITV in order.
Valoriza is using vehicles from the same fleet that it had before renewing its municipal contract in 2021. According to the CSIF union, Valoriza has been dedicated to these tasks since 2005 when it bought the Sufi SA company and inherited the contract it had with the City Council. A spokesman for the Sacyr group has not answered this newspaper about the reasons why the company is breaching the new 2021 contract that requires the acquisition of a new fleet “inexcusably”.
“Vehicles that are made available to the service will inexcusably be newly acquired, in no case admitting any used, even if it has been in a short period of time or re-registered, zero km, or similar,” the specifications say. In addition, they indicate: “All vehicles destined for these works will have an environmental label in accordance with the following indications: Vehicles with a Maximum Authorized Mass (MMA) equal to or less than 3,500 kilos, must have a ZERO or ECO environmental label. Vehicles weighing more than 3,500 kilos MMA may have the ZERO, ECO or C environmental label.
Mobility restrictions in Madrid have increased year by year during Almeida’s stage, who reluctantly inherited Madrid Central, the star measure of Manuela Carmena. The new cleaning and gardening contracts were supposed to bring the municipal fleet up to date, but the City Council continues without setting an example. The CSIF union has charged the councilor for this reason: “The City Council chaired by Jose Luis Martinez Almeida cannot demand from citizens an attitude that is in line with the protection of the Environment and then turn a blind eye to the services that they depend”, said CSIF in a press release on Monday. There are several contractor companies that do not comply with the 2021 specifications, according to CSIF.
A spokeswoman for the Environment area of the City Council responds to this newspaper that companies are progressively changing their fleet of vehicles due to supply problems, which are causing delays in car purchases.
In environmental matters, the Almeida City Council is celebrating. In 2022, Madrid has complied for the first time with the European air quality directive, which dates from 2008. The mayor and the delegate for the Environment, Borja Carabante, appeared before the media this Monday to congratulate themselves on this progress. Almeida highlighted that of the 231 measures of his Madrid 360 Environmental Sustainability Strategy, presented on September 30, 2019, 60% are completed and 30% are ongoing.
The spokesperson for the City Council adds that there is a technological obstacle that prevents the City Council from stopping polluting. Many of the municipal vehicles are sophisticated and she, she explains, there are not yet electric or hybrid versions available. She adds that the specifications for the 2021 contracts already provided for this exemption for the winning companies. And she gives as an example a fire truck that, supposedly, does not have non-polluting versions. However, recent news indicates that municipalities in advanced countries are acquiring their first electric fire trucks, such as the Los Angeles fire department. Here in Madrid we will have to wait.