By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]
It emerged this week that the Government may introduce tolls on the A22, Via do Infante, before the original April 15 deadline.
The Minister of Public Works, António Mendoça, told Lusa news agency: “The Government will work to gather conditions to introduce tolls on the four SCUT roads that do not already have them in place. The planned date for the introduction of these tolls is April 15, 2011.
“However, everything is being done according to the schedule and if there are conditions for tolls to be introduced earlier than April 15, then it will happen.”
Left-wing politician João Vasconcelos, who set up the Comissão de Utentes (commission of users) for the A22, told the Algarve Resident: “We were faced with this new situation but we will carry on with our actions against the introduction of tolls on the Via do Infante.
“The Comissão de Utentes continues to make contacts with various institutions to propose several measures to halt this move and we stand by our position that the EN125 road will never be an alternative to Via do Infante even after being improved.”
He added: “Our commission has increased in size as more people have joined the cause. In November, we will hold a meeting with various entities and with all those who are against this measure imposed by the Government.”
Mónica Leal, who works in Lagos and uses the A22, said: “I think to pay tolls on a road that is constantly under construction, where there are no improvements and where the surface is a mess is an absurd measure. Across the border in Spain, from Ayamonte to Seville, the roads are 100 times better than ours and they do not pay anything.
“Anticipating the payment of tolls is even worse than I was expecting. Sócrates should make cuts on his ‘business’ travels and should also start to buy his suits in bargain shops in Portugal rather than in the US.”
Another user of the A22, a work surveyor for a construction company, Diogo Simões, told the Algarve Resident: “If the Government is asking to bring forward the payment of tolls on the A22 it is because they are in need. Poor ministers, poor Prime Minister. We as good citizens have to help them fill their pockets.”
Meanwhile, the Algarve Câmaras Association (AMAL) rejected the introduction of tolls on the A22 and requested a meeting with the Prime Minister to propose the postponement of the measure until the EN125 is improved.
Faro Mayor and AMAL president Macário Correia told Barlavento newspaper: “The government did not respond to our meeting request.”
He added: “Until now, no meeting has been scheduled with AMAL, the entity that brings together the 16 municipalities in the Algarve. We have just received letters stating that the meeting would take place with other participants rather than the Prime Minister.”
Editor’s Note: The response to our ‘Say No to Tolls’ initiative, in which visitors could sign the online petition against the move at the Algarve Resident’s stand at BLiP, was indeed very poor despite the large number of people who visited us. If you would still like to sign the petition but need help due to the lack of a command of the Portuguese language, please visit our offices in Lagoa at Rua Visconde de Lagoa nº2 and 3 and we will help you register.