Easter traffic chaos predicted as PM urged to scrap A22 tolls “once and for all”

After years of trying to convince the previous government to do away with the Algarve’s A22 motorway tolls, MP João Vasconcelos has now sent an open letter to Prime Minister António Costa asking him to act once and for all.
The letter comes as Easter looms, and many fear traffic in the Algarve will yet again become “overwhelmingly chaotic”, says the MP.

As anti-tolls group CUVI and business owners explain, the EN125 is undergoing extensive renovations that confine traffic to just one lane and have already seen months of tailback misery.

Bottlenecks “will only get worse” when tourists start arriving en-masse.

As Vasconcelos used to lead CUVI, the MP for Bloco de Esquerda (BE) has used his personal experience to give Costa the low-down on the effect of the region’s tolls.

He explained everything that protestors have been railing against since 2011 – the fact that the A22 was constructed with EU funds aimed at opening up the Algarve, thus to charge people for the privilege of using it is not only counter-productive but essentially immoral; that the EN125 is not a viable alternative to the A22, as has been borne out by the rising number of accidents, many of which have caused deaths – and that the tolls have had a “serious negative impact” on people’s day-to-day lives and businesses.

“How many more lives will be lost, how many families will be torn apart due to unjust laws applied without mercy by a government?” Vasconcelos asks. “This deadly injustice has to be corrected, Mister Prime Minister.”

The BE MP also explained that the tolls cause “endless bottlenecks at the border (with Spain)” during holiday season and that “many drivers will turn around and go back to their countries” in frustration.

Vasconcelos reminded Costa that the PM had promised he would study the previous government’s PPP (public-private partnerships) concerning the tolls, and that he was made aware that the EN125 “was a cemetery” and could never be considered an alternative to the motorway.

He believes, however, that the PM will “keep his word” and look into the issue as “I have no reason thus far to believe otherwise”.

“I’m confident that my expectations, that the Algarve’s expectations, won’t be defrauded.”

As the Resident reported last week, a proposal to end the tolls on the Algarve’s A22 motorway once and for all will be presented by the BE during the upcoming 2016 State budget debates this week.

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Photo: Last Easter’s chaotic scenes as hundreds of Spanish visitors waited in queues to enter the Algarve