Algarve anti-toll group CUVI is organising another protest on the EN125 road on Thursday, December 8 to call for the end of the motorway tolls on the A22 (also known as Via do Infante).
The ‘slow march’ will see protesters driving their cars at a low speed between Largo da República in Luz de Tavira and Tavira’s town hall.
The protest – which will begin at 3pm and is open to everyone – was called to mark the 11th anniversary of the tolls, which were introduced on December 8, 2011.
“These have been 11 years of complete regression for the Algarve, in which mobility in the region has regressed over 20 years and in which economic, social and territorial inequalities have worsened,” the anti-toll group says.
According to CUVI, “the economic and social losses have been very high and many lives have been lost, as the tolls on Via do Infante have forced traffic onto the EN125, which has yet to be completely renovated between Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António and has led to an increase of road traffic accidents in the region.”
The group defends that the abolition of the tolls should have been included in the 2023 State Budget and places the blame on the ruling Socialist Party (PS) and the Social-Democrat Party (PSD), which have voted in Parliament against proposals by other parties to end the tolls once and for all.
Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa is also targeted for his promise in 2015 to end the tolls once he was elected.
“Until today, that promise remains nothing more than empty and unfulfilled words,” the group says.
CUVI believes that the abolishment of the tolls is more important than ever at a time when the Algarve is still recovering from the pandemic and “living a serious crisis due to seasonality, inflation and rising living costs.”
The possible 10% increase of toll prices – which even the PM has spoken up against, saying that “nothing would justify” such an increase – would only make matters worse, the group defends.
“It will be unaffordable for (motorway) users and the Algarve population if the concession company imposes increases of toll prices,” says CUVI, adding that the region already has thousands of people unemployed or living on the brink of poverty.
It also warns that such a measure could plunge several companies into bankruptcy, making unemployment an even bigger concern in the Algarve.
“On the other hand, the PPP (public-private partnership) is very damaging for the State, which transfers into the pockets of the private concessionaire tens of millions of euros of taxpayers’ money every year, money which is needed to fight the crisis, for public investment and for the improvement of public services,” says the group.
CUVI is promising to carry out further protests until the tolls are abolished on the A22 and until the EN125 is completely renovated between Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António.