Rainha das Vindimas (by BFP) 2632.jpg

Parliament delays decision on A22 tolls … again

By Paulo Silvestre [email protected]

Portugal’s legislators have again postponed the start date for the introduction of tolls on the Algarve’s A22 motorway, this time because of the “amount of other legislation” due to be discussed by parliament.

Friday’s (October 28) meeting agenda included discussion of a petition against the introduction of tolls on the A22 (Via do Infante) and a draft law presented by Bloco de Esquerda, the left wing political party, about an exemptions programme but time ran out and, with no decision taken, the starting date for tolls in the region, originally scheduled for the end of October, is still pending.

José Vitorino, a former MP and Faro Mayor, who was part of a group which attended the meeting, said that the tolls should not be implemented because “the Algarve is different to other regions in the country” and vowed that the fight against their introduction would continue.

Speaking after the meeting, José Vitorino who is also part of the Faro citizens association Com Faro no Coração (CFC), said that the region with tolls “will suffer severe social and economic consequences”.

Left-wing politician João Vasconcelos, who set up the Comissão de Utentes da A22 (A22 users’ commission) said: “The intervention of MPs representing the PS political party was only about the redevelopment works on the EN125 road, which will never be an alternative to the A22, while Algarve MPs for the PSD party made no statements, which I found very strange.

“Tolls will be a social catastrophe and tourism will be hit hard if they are implemented.”

The groups against tolls in the region promised to continue the fight and said the exemptions programme for residents was not enough because it was “limited”.

The CDS-PP political party suggested that the residents’ exemptions must take into account the geographical characteristics of the region, adding that they should be broader than in other regions of the country.

Bloco de Esquerda argued that the Algarve has no alternative road and the impact of tolls in the region will be devastating.

“The region has the highest unemployment rate in the country. The consequences of tolls in the Algarve, where tourism is a key industry, will be catastrophic,” said a spokesman from the party.

Paulo Sá, from the PCP political party, said the EN125 is no alternative to the A22 and stressed the negative impact of tolls in economical terms, especially for users already affected by the austerity programme of the Troika.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]