Government admits “there could have been State responsibility in Borba tragedy”. Families to receive compensation

In a week when the government has been described as “increasingly isolated”, it has suddenly announced that it will be indemnifying the families of five men who lost their lives in Borba last month when a road between two quarries collapsed after heavy rains.

The decision was made as a result of today’s extraordinary ‘council of ministers’ – convened to react to the preliminary report on the tragedy, drawn up by the general inspectorate of Agriculture, the Sea, Environment and Territorial Planning, and delivered “some days ago”.

The bottom line is that the report “admits there could be central administration responsibility due to inspection failings of the quarries” in question, explains Público.

The report alludes to “clear third party responsibilities” – stressing that the State “may not have diligently pursued the inspection of quarry activity” incumbent upon it. This means “circumstantial responsibility” cannot be ruled out, and thus the decision to award compensation.

Said a statement coming out of the meeting today, the move should not preclude the establishment of any liabilities in respect of which the State may be entitled to a return of monies paid out.

Says Público, the case will now be dealt with by the Ombudsman “as was the case with the fires of 2017”.

The Borba deaths – and the fact that the road that collapsed had been clearly at risk for years – were the subject of a clash between prime minister António Costa and President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa after the former maintained that there was no evidence of State responsibility (click here).

President Marcelo disagreed, suggesting the State had an “objective responsibility” in that its role is to ensure citizens are safe.

Marcelo’s focus on tenets of law, and what is right, has put ruling PS Socialists in the spotlight this week, forcing them back to the negotiations table with teachers and now impelling them to do what he feels is right for five traumatised families.