Billboards put up in 2018 by the councils of Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António to denounce the poor state of the EN125 road

Court decision continues to delay EN125 roadworks between Olhão and VRSA

The president of national infrastructure authority Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP) said last week that the much-needed roadworks on the EN125 between Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António have yet to move forward because they are waiting on a court decision.

Although the renovation of the western section of the road was completed several years ago, the eastern section, spanning 45km, has been continuously held back by bureaucratic delays.

As IP boss António Laranjo told a parliamentary commission last week, the roadworks can only move forward after a decision from the arbitration court about the case lodged by subconcession company Rotas do Algarve Litoral (RAL) is made.

“It is a case filed by RAL with a claim for compensation amounting to €445 million, in addition to another brought by the financing banks to the tune of €43 million,” Laranjo said.

The case dates back to 2019 when the company announced its intention to terminate the subconcession contract, describing it as “unviable” after the Court of Auditors rejected the suggested changes to the contract in 2017.

“Until there is a decision by the arbitration court, IP cannot carry out any works on the stretch of road that it aimed to remove from the subconcession contract,” he added.

During the same hearing, which took place at the request of social democrat party PSD, the IP president said that the maintenance of the eastern stretch of the road continues to be carried out by RAL although the planned renovations are on hold.

“The court sentenced IP to pay €30 million upfront and to maintain another monthly payment of €1.2 million until the final decision, so that RAL can ensure the maintenance and functionality of the whole road from Vila do Bispo to Vila Real de Santo António,” he said.

Laranjo remains “optimistic” that the sticky situation may come to an end soon, as IP has “everything ready to move forward with tenders” for the renovation of the Olhão-VRSA stretch.

He explained that the tenders have yet to move forward due to the uncertainty surrounding the court’s decision.

Nonetheless, the MPs attending the hearing defended that there would be “no legal obstacles” preventing the renovations from taking place if IP were to comply with the various draft resolutions presented by parliamentary groups and approved in parliament.

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