By: Caroline Cunha
JOVITA LADEIRA is one of six elected Socialist MPs serving the Algarve. She was born in Tavira but has lived in Vila Real de Santo António for many years, and is responsible for the Sotavento area. Her focus areas in parliament are environmental issues, planning guidelines, councils and equality.
This is the third time Jovita Ladeira has served as an MP, first being elected in 1995. Each mandate lasts four years and her current term will finish in 2008. The Resident met up with Jovita to ask for her views on today’s hot issues affecting the region.
Jovita is 50-years-old but, due to a healthy lifestyle and love of cycling, swimming and jogging, she appears younger than her years and exudes energy. The MP has two sons, aged 28 and 29, and revealed she is already a Grandma.
Quality of life
Jovita is a school teacher by profession – a job she said she loved – so why the move into politics? “I am not in politics to benefit myself but to help the general public by working towards the upgrade of our cities and facilities, and increase quality of life,” she said.
The Resident often receives communications from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) but curiously hears very little from the Socialists in the Algarve. Is it a case of those in power staying quiet while the opposition makes all the noise? Jovita laughed but made it clear that the international community is, in fact, important to the party. “I want to converse with them more and I am glad you have told me that you are not hearing much from us. I will correct this,” she said.
Various entities in the Algarve have been publicly bemoaning the lack of information coming from the government with regard to prospecting for oil in the region. The secrecy, they say, is cause for “suspicion” and “mistrust”. “This oil project is not a secret,” said Jovita. “The idea for prospecting for oil has been discussed for more than 30 years already and, in 2002, a tender was launched for a company to be chosen to prospect for oil and natural gas in the Algarve. Portugal has a great lack of energy so this makes sense.
“People shouldn’t be worried as no drilling will begin until the environmental studies are concluded. The project will not go ahead unless it meets two conditions: that it must be profitable for the Algarve and that it does not cause any environmental damages,” she continued.
The recently launched Allgarve promotional tourism campaign has become the source of controversy. “I don’t see any problem with the name Allgarve. What is important is that lots of money is being invested to promote the Algarve. For me, it is the best ever campaign,” Jovita said.
Much has been written about construction re-commencing at the Barragem de Odelouca (a reservoir to supply water to the Barlavento region) and the financing of the project. There have been fears the public will end up paying higher water bills. “By co-incidence, I had a meeting with the president of Águas do Algarve this morning to discuss the final points of the financing and I can categorically say this is not true. The construction project will have no effect on consumer water bills. This is being financed by EU funding and Águas do Algarve.
“What people should know is that Águas do Algarve charges the same amount per cubic metre of water to each and every câmara in the Algarve, but the câmaras are all charging different amounts to their residents. For example, Tavira has the second most expensive water in the country! A meeting must be held as soon as possible between the câmaras so that the tariffs become uniform,” she said.
Jovita is concerned with improving healthcare in the Algarve and acknowledges that, at the eastern end of the Algarve, Faro hospital is not able to cope with the burgeoning population. So why the long wait for another hospital to be built? “There was lots of talk in the past but the reality was, there was no money. This time around there is money available. The Hospital Central (planned for Parque das Cidades next to Algarve Stadium) is in a study phase and will be built once the international tender is concluded and within the next funding period of 2008-2012,” she said.
If healthcare is of such concern, why is it that the new paediatric emergency unit at Faro Hospital is so behind schedule, despite having private funding from Forum Algarve shopping centre (raised from the public using its ice skating rink) and the state? Work has not begun yet and it was supposed to open in June 2007. “Bureaucracy cannot stand in the way of children receiving the care they deserve and I will investigate this situation right away,” Jovita told The Resident.
No to concrete
What is being done to improve public transport links in the region? “Improving access links is important and a viability study has been put together for an over-ground metro line to be built in the Algarve between Tavira, Olhão, Faro, Loulé and Albufeira and a second nucleus in the Portimão area.”
Finally, we spoke about the statistics released last week concerning the Algarve being one of the regions to approve licences for the construction of tall buildings in 2006. “I’m totally against this. We must have balanced development and quality of life. More rules are being introduced by the government in the shape of the PROTAL planning guidelines and councils need to look carefully at their boroughs and be cautious about licensing projects that will create too much concrete! POOC, the coastline regulations, are also being introduced to protect the quality and appearance of seaside areas,” she concluded.
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