Invasion follows yesterday’s widespread protests by country’s pensioners
Something has happened with the rising temperatures; rising cost of living and plummeting standards. Branches of society that do not usually make much of a fuss are taking to the streets/ storming public buildings, and demanding to be heard.
Yesterday it was the country’s pensioners, today it was the citizens of Covilhã, one of the main urban centres of the historical Beira Interior region.
Covilhã is not a hotbed of insurrection. But the deterioration of local bus services has turned normal every day people into banner waving furies.
Police were called to “restore public order”, says reports.
Fortunately, there were “no incidents”. But SIC television news heard from some people who were apoplectic with rage.
With the crowd piling into what must have been one of the town hall’s State rooms, there was standing room only; chanting, clapping. People refused to leave until they were heard.
PS Socialist Mayor Vítor Pereira was persuaded to face the invasion and “give explanations.
The result was that the crowd decided “to give the executive the benefit of the doubt”.
Mr Pereira returned in one piece to his office – and now very possibly he will have quite a bit of sorting out to do.
What was this all about? Locals say a new agreement signed between the town council and MoviCovilhã, of the Transdev group, the transport company that runs the area’s buses, has changed timetables (for much the worse) as well as routes (leaving many people with long walks to get to their destinations, which are invariably work): One woman was in tears describing a 3 km walk she now has to do everyday, to arrive at work in time for the 8am start; another was absolutely furious with the three hour wait between two buses in the evening: either you catch the bus at 5pm, or you have to wait until 8pm. “This isn’t mobility”, she railed at the television cameras. “It is immobility!”
Not everyone in the throng was delighted with the results of this morning’s efforts, but the bottom line is that a “monitoring committee involving various entities” will be set up to “evaluate the impact of the new public transportation contract and present alternative solutions to the company” (MoviCovilhã).
The time-span given to this undertaking is “the next two months”.