Four ‘Sociedades Polis Litoral’ – coastal intervention authorities – are finally being liquidated on December 31 along with a number of “Sociedades Polis cidades’.
The news came in the proposed State Budget delivered to parliament on Monday.
In fact the only Sociedade Polis that will be making it into the next decade is the one in Viana do Castelo, which has failed after 20 years to demolish the 13-storey ‘eyesore’ apartment block that led to its inception .
The interesting aspect of this story is that critics’ response to the news has been either a resounding ‘Good riddance!’ or pithy questioning as to where exactly all the millions of euros ploughed into these public entities have gone.
Sulinformação’s text on the news, for example, has been followed by an insightful piece by one reader on the demise of Polis Litoral Ria Formosa, the purpose of which has been since 2008 to environmentally protect and upgrade the estuary’s landscape.
“Where did they spend the 87 million euros ”, queries João Luis Antunes “if the estuary is increasingly polluted, if there is consistently less production of bivalves (clams, whelks etc) and if the Ria itself is constantly more silted up thanks to Polis’ interventions in Fuzeta, Cacela Velha and the bank round Armona?
“If the lion’s share of this money was to demolish ‘so-called illegal’ houses on the barrier islands, and if most of those houses were actually demolished by the sea in Fuzeta, where is the money – bearing in mind Polis hasn’t built the bridge to Praia do Faro” (a long running ambition) “and has done nothing to fix even one of the sewage pipes that run directly from Olhão straight into the estuary, leading to a situation where three bivalve production areas have had to be declassified due to pollution, all under Polis’ watch! Now, just as 160 bivalve nurseries along the entire estuary have been declassified and prohibited from harvesting oysters, cockles and razorfish clams, Polis is over?
“This is a case to ask where have the checks been on the spending of this 87.5 million euros, and will the European Union ever get to hear that the programme has been cancelled as it didn’t in fact preserve anything but limited itself to filling the bellies of friends of those in power, among them those who have always plundered the Ria’s sand?”
Tough words, mirrored by local blog Olhão Livre, whose writer António Terramoto lives up to his name (terramoto being an earthquake).
Opening with: “after the mess they’ve created for 11 years Polis is finally winding itself up”, Terramoto says: “Polis Ria Formosa not only failed to achieve its objectives to upgrade Ria Formosa, it made many things a great deal worse”.
The post explains that “this kind of Polis is different to those in the cities”, and with a few exceptions like work done in Faro’s riverside park or the Cabanas Marginal, what it did in the Ria was basically s*** (‘merda’), starting from the beginning with the demolition of people’s homes”.
In Viana do Castelo however, the Polis that has been trying unsuccessfully to demolish ‘Predio Coutinho’, has been given another 12-months in order to finally get the last battling homeowners out.
It too has spent huge amounts of money over years and years, seemingly getting absolutely nowhere.
Earlier this year Environment Minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes said the delay in managing to demolish Predio Coutinho was costing the Viana Polis 30,000 euros a month.
Right now, Viana Polis is advancing with further legal action against the ‘squatters’ (who own their own homes) in order to try and get all legal costs relating to the demolition delay paid by them (click here).
If successful, the demolition will then cost over €35 million, which is roughly €22 million in excess of the original budget (click here)
The ‘squatters’, as all reports have explained, are all quite frail pensioners who believe they have been treated despicably.
Whatever transpires in the wrangle in Viana do Castelo, certainly there appears no sadness over the bloc Polis ‘extinction’.
In the Algarve, where fishing communities have had to fight tooth-and-nail to retain their homes and livelihoods, there are also doubts that Polis’ demise will make anything any ‘better’. “The threat of demolition will always hang over us”, said a source for campaign group SOS Ria Formosa. “It will just come from an entity with a different name…”