by PAULO SILVESTRE
Municipalities in the Algarve have called for a general boycott of the payment of tolls on the Via do Infante (A22) because of the “lack of communication by the Government” in response to their request for a meeting with the Algarve Câmaras Association, AMAL, to discuss the situation.
The move represents a u-turn for AMAL, which initially agreed with the introduction of the tolls after the conclusion of the redevelopment works on the EN125.
The association says it has requested a meeting with the Prime Minister on several occasions over the last two months, all without reply.
Faro Mayor and AMAL president Macário Correia told the Algarve Resident: “The Government does not want to talk about this issue of great importance to the Algarve and has decided to give instructions for the placement of 10 toll booths on the A22. The placement of such equipment is imminent – the Government has already started the process and held talks with contractors for the work.”
He said Portugal is a democratic regime and democracy should prevail over “Government arrogance”.
“The Government does not respect the Algarve and its residents. We have all to protest and collectively refuse to pay tolls,” he said.
“That will be the best way to raise our voices against injustice. If everyone refuses to pay tolls, there will be no courts available for so many processes.”
João Vasconcelos, one of the founders of Comissão de Utentes (commission of users) for the A22, told the Algarve Resident: “This change of position about tolls is a very positive move. It fits in with the Comissão de Utentes’ principles and we hope that AMAL join us in our next protest actions.”
He added: “We had criticised AMAL’s position of waiting for a meeting with the Government to try to resolve the situation. A Government like ours, arrogant and overbearing, will never give a response. We praise AMAL for their new position.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Government may introduce tolls on the A22/Via do Infante before the original April 15 deadline (see Algarve Resident November 12 edition).
The Minister of Public Works, António Mendoça, told Lusa news agency: “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.”
Macário Correia said: “The Ministry of Public Works is conspiring behind our backs but we will not accept that the tolls are introduced before the scheduled date.”
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