by PAULO SILVESTRE
A bid to block the introduction of tolls on the A22/Via do Infante has failed.
Comissão de Utentes da A22, the commission of A22 users, represented by left wing party Bloco de Esquerda (BE) members, met with Parliament deputies on January 14 but their proposal that the introduction of tolls be reversed was defeated by the combined votes of the ruling PS and PSD political parties.
In a statement, the BE said: “We condemn this attitude of disloyalty to the people of the Algarve, who will be heavily penalised by the introduction of tolls on this main road for the movement of people in the region.
“The PS and PSD joined forces in supporting a measure that is intolerable. It will have a seriously bad impact on the tourist sector, which is essential for the region’s economy. Tolls on the A22 will affect workers and businesses and will only worsen the situation of an already severe crisis in the region.”
It also argued that the implementation of tolls on the Via do Infante is an unfair measure and that users should not pay for a road built mainly by EU funds.
Algarve PSD MP Mendes Bota, who is against the introduction of tolls, said that PSD did not grant him a free vote on this matter.
“I wanted to vote in favour of this draft resolution presented by BE but I had my hands tied. I refused the invitation of the PSD parliamentary president to speak about this subject. I would not contradict everything I think and said about tolls on the A22 and it is also not of good political sense to contradict the decisions of the leadership of the political party which I am a member.”
Meanwhile, Algarve Câmara Mayors, business owners, unions and Comissão de Utentes da A22 have said they will fight together against the tolls.
At a meeting in the Algarve Câmaras Association (AMAL) premises in Faro, they agreed to create a set of measures to continue the fight.
These include the creation of a technical document to clarify for the public what the campaign means, a request for a new meeting with the Minister of Public Works and the setting up of a forum for public debate.
AMAL president and Faro Mayor Macário Correia said: “The groups at the meeting are going to define a strategy to strengthen the fight against the tolls.
“We will be united and active with regular meetings, and the next one will be on January 24 at the AMAL premises.”
He added: “The technical document will explain the fact that the Algarve has unique conditions compared with the rest of the country, and ensures that the region will not break the solidarity with the economic difficulties in the country or with any other region.”
Macário Correia said the main reason the Algarve is fighting against tolls is the fact that the region does not have an alternative to the A22 and more road traffic on EN125 will increase the number of deaths on that road.
The Comissão de Utentes da A22 is also intending to apply to the Portuguese courts for an injunction. The document is expected to be delivered within the next 15 days.
Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]