Anti-tolls group CUVI has called Portuguese minister Pedro Marques an “embarrassment” following his remarks about how drivers have saved “hundreds of thousands of euros” since the government lowered toll prices on the Algarve’s A22 motorway.
The statement ignited the group, which defends the only suitable solution is to completely ban the tolls which it has always deemed “illegal”.
Their plea continues to fall on deaf ears, however. The infrastructure and planning boss seems pleased about the 15% price reduction implemented on August 1 on the A22, as well as the A4, A23, A24 and A25 highways in the centre/north of the country.
“We have fulfilled our commitment to reduce toll prices, a measure which already had an impact in August. There’s been more circulation and more vehicles on the A22 in August then the same month last year,” he told journalists at the opening ceremony of Tavira’s Mediterranean Fair last Thursday (September 1).
The politician promised to present more detailed data soon.
Still, Marques acknowledged that the 15% price reduction was not what most people expected or wanted.
“Some said it was too small, they wanted more. I understand that, but people also must understand that things have to be done sustainably,” he said.
He added that the price reduction allowed the government to keep an “electoral promise” while maintaining the stability of the state and the national infrastructure authority’s coffers.
Anti-toll group CUVI reacted strongly to the minister’s words. In a statement posted to the group’s Facebook page, the group says the minister “forgot to mention that the toll prices on the A22 were already 30% more expensive than in the rest of Portugal”. In other words, even after the latest price reduction, “the A22 tolls are still more expensive than the rest”.
“And the PS government’s promise was to reduce them by 50%,” the group adds.
CUVI also criticises the minister for “not saying a word about the miserable state” of the EN125 road between Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António, which has been awaiting renovations for years.
Criticism extends to the Algarve’s municipalities association AMAL and the regional tourism board RTA, which the group blasts for not playing a more active role in the fight against the motorway tolls.
The group added that if all this continues, the Algarve is set to register over 10,000 accidents in 2016.