On December 29, some 1,500 homes in the Tenerife municipality of Arona, in the south of the island, were affected by a power outage. The cause? A debt that Ten-Bel Turismo, SL, the company that owns this set of developments, maintains with Endesa. The problem, they say from the City Council, is that “all urbanizations have a unified electricity contract”, that is, they are not individualized either by homes or by urbanizations. And despite the fact that the neighbors have paid the amount of their bills to the company, which is the owner of the contract, it has not done the same.
Just two days before the end of the year, with their bills correctly paid and without receiving any type of notice, the residents of the area lost electricity at home. The next day they organized and, with the collaboration of the City Council, the Local Police and Civil Protection, installed generators that since December 30 provide electricity to the different urbanizations of the place. Two weeks later, they are still refilling these expensive devices with gasoline in order to have electricity in their homes.
a private conflict
Luca Mastrantonio is president of his community in one of the urbanizations affected by this cut in supply and considers it “unacceptable” that the local corporation of Arona does not intervene to solve the problem: “We have contacted the City Council on several occasions. I myself went this morning to file a complaint and they say they can’t do anything,” he says.
Municipal sources acknowledge that, indeed, as it is a private debt between Ten-Bel Turismo, SL and Endesa, the City Council cannot interfere. The council claims to have done what was in its power to help install these generator sets, which, however, have to be paid for by the neighboring communities. “They say it’s a matter between the company and the electricity company, but it doesn’t stop affecting us, the residents of your municipality, who pay our taxes, our bills and we’re not to blame for this,” says Mastrantonio indignantly.
Their community, Apartamentos Eureka, is made up of some 162 homes and after two weeks of self-sufficiency in electricity, they see it as unfeasible to continue coping with the high costs of generating electricity in this way: “We keep the lighting off in gardens and common areas, but we still thus, between the rental of the generators and gasoline we are spending about 4,000 euros a week”, he says. We have run out of community funds and we are not going to be able to afford it any longer,” he asserts.
Faced with the impossibility of meeting these expenses, they believe that they will have to live without electricity in their homes, something they consider “regrettable”, since elderly people and families with children live there and need access to something as basic as a hot shower, cooking , work from home or correct lighting. Mastrantonio, for his part, understands that this is a problem that Endesa has with the Ten-Bel company and that the neighbors who pay their bills do not have to be facing this situation.
Ruined company, ruined city
However, it is not the first time that Ten-Bel Turismo, SL (the name comes from the union of the words Tenerife and Belgium, which was the tourism that visited the area in the 1960s, when it was opened, although its heyday came in the 1980s, when it had all kinds of leisure and sports facilities and more than 5,000 tourist beds) is the cause of some type of damage to third parties. The company that built what was once one of the first resort towns in Spain not only has a debt with the electricity company Endesa, but also has pending issues with the Treasury. Currently, it brings together various investors among its partners and appears on the latest list of debtors made public last December by the Tax Agency, to whom it owes more than 650,000 euros.
In April of last year, the company made headlines again when workers at the Alborada Ocean Club hotel, also owned by Ten-Bel, called a strike after spending three consecutive months without receiving their salary. This, added to the other three salaries that were already owed to them from the previous administration – when the name of the hotel was Annapurna – made a total of six payrolls owed at that time.
In addition, this residential area is in a terrible state of conservation: vandalized buildings, demolished walkways, gardens invaded by weeds, streets without lighting, roads riddled with potholes, completely destroyed common areas… The City Council cannot do anything in this situation either. de Arona, who observes impassively how what was once one of the most luxurious and touristic areas in the south of Tenerife is today submerged in the deepest abandonment.
In 2013, and given the impossibility of meeting all of the payments it owed, Ten-Bel Turismo, SL voluntarily submitted an application for insolvency proceedings, a procedure in which it is still immersed today after that the agreement proposal presented by the company was not accepted.