By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]
A march of protest against the introduction of tolls on the Via do Infante/A22 road led to traffic delays on the main access to Faro and within the city on November 26.
Around 20 vehicles from members of the Comissão de Utentes da A22 (motorway users’ commission) plus other drivers joined the protest which started at Sítio do Arneiro, on the EN125 in Faro, and continued to the roundabout near Faro Hospital.
The marchers carried banners with slogans saying that tolls on the Via do Infante would increase the accident rate in the region and that the Algarve people would not be paying tolls.
Left-wing politician João Vasconcelos, who set up the Comissão de Utentes da A22, told the Algarve Resident: “The protest went very well and exceeded our expectations. Hundreds of drivers joined us and we had about two kilometres of cars along the route of the protest, which lasted about one-hour-and-a-half and showed that the Algarve does not want the introduction of tolls.”
He added: “The region is experiencing great economic difficulties and they will be even worse for families and businesses if the government introduces tolls on the motorway.”
João Vasconcelos said the Algarve has to be heard and politicians must keep their promises.
“The PS political party, in its government programme, assured that there would be no tolls on the Via do Infante. I appeal to all people in the Algarve to join the protests.
“We are struggling with difficulties in organising and promoting support for the protests. Comissão de Utentes da A22 has its doors open to all political forces and associations.” He added: “We hope that the Algarve Câmaras Association, AMAL, and its president Macário Correia give us their support in future because this is a common struggle for all who live in the Algarve.”
The commission has now gathered 10,000 signatures on a petition against the tolls.
“We will now schedule a date to deliver it to Parliament and discuss with the government the introduction of tolls on the A22.
“We are going to schedule a new meeting and organise other protests at Ponte do Guadiana in Vila Real de Santo António,” said João Vasconcelos.
Meanwhile, a group of users of the A22 road launched an appeal by email, which is circulating on the internet, saying: “Instead of marches that lead to nowhere, the solution lies in circulating on the highways where tolls have already been installed without buying the obligatory chip and without paying tolls.”
They added: “The Portuguese law system is very slow and this would certainly lead to many thousands of cases per day in the courts, which would cause the system to crash.”
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