The Algarve’s anti-tolls group says a recent report from the Court of Auditors (Tribunal de Contas – TC) on road sub-concessions in Portugal clearly reveals that road users “are being robbed to the benefit of public-private partnerships”.
For example, the TC report states that the renegotiation of contracts with road sub-concessions when tolls were introduced on the former SCUT roads included “a more advantageous remuneration regime”.
João Vasconcelos from the Comissão de Utentes da Via do Infante (CUVI), which continues fighting against the tolls on the A22, said: “The Court of Auditors’ report confirms what we have always known: the contracts are ruinous for the government – an economic disaster with clear advantages for the sub-concessions.”
He hopes the government will have the “good sense in correcting this robbery”, putting an end to the contracts and suspending the tolls for good.
The report showed that some contracts had not been subject to the control of the Court of Auditors, which meant that expenditure was increased by €705 million.
The TC added that the National Institute of Road Infrastructures (INIR), which regulates the sector, had provided information with “omissions as requested by the previous government”.
Meanwhile, the PSD Algarve political party has asked the government to clarify the situation regarding the road sub-concession contracts under consortium Algarve Litoral, responsible for the EN125 redevelopment project.
Party leader Luís Gomes says the irregularities detected, which the Court of Auditors also revealed, need to be addressed and sanctioned accordingly.
“Perhaps this is the time for the government to review the tolls situation in the Algarve,” said Luís Gomes, adding that the population had been led to believe that Algarve Litoral was the solution to all road problems in the region, namely the redevelopment of the EN125.
“This was the reason why the José Sócrates’ government introduced tolls on the Via do Infante. However, we are five years on and many of the projects agreed for the EN125 have not even started and the ones that have, have been suspended,” he said.
Algarve hoteliers and tourist related businesses, through the associations that represent them, have requested that the government considers the temporary suspension of the tolls during the months of July and August.
The government recently confirmed that it would be reviewing the situation regarding the tolls in June, however that may be a little too late for the Algarve, with the summer holiday season well underway. I.L.