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TOLL Problems and solutions

Dear Editor,

It’s a bit of a problem to title this email, as it encompasses a number of things which affect the use of the Algarve’s roads as a whole and the knock on effect this has on the area’s income regarding its major attraction namely tourism.

If we first examine the problems perhaps we can suggest some solutions.

1) The toll system in place for the A22 patently does not work, it is poorly thought out, poorly advised to local people and tourists alike and a negative revenue earner for the government. You might note that the government has refused to publish details of revenues earned so far from A22 tolls.

2) The government reaction has been lamentable, some knee jerk measures to be introduced at the end of April regarding hire cars, and a potential debate regarding tolls to take place in parliament sometime in June, with no promise/commitment from this to progress the issue to any kind of workable solution.

3) Work on the EN125 road improvements have stopped (from March 23), we are told these are unlikely to resume until May at the earliest. There are a couple of reasons given for this: a) failure of one of the contractors to the consortium performing the work, or b) non-payment of monies to the consortium regarding a stage payment, we can only surmise whether b) may have cause a) to occur.

Solutions: In the case of 1). There is no point in shoring up a house built on sand, consequently the current scheme needs to be suspended with immediate effect; this just might save the coming peak holiday season, it will generate some goodwill with potential holidaymakers for this and future seasons, and give time to consolidate a sensible approach to the tolling system.

In the case of 2). A number of activities need to be undertaken

• Scoping of a project which will deliver the objectives of creating a workable system for tolling, advising a timescale for completion of the work, keeping the public advised of what is going on via PROPER COMMUNICATION.

• Establish a working party who can deliver the objectives identified in the scope, I would say this would include government agencies, touristic operators, car hire companies, machinery contractors etc.  This group requires two things to be a success, AUTHORITY and ACCOUNTABILITY, the working party must not become a bureaucratic talking shop. A time frame needs to be published and more importantly adhered to

• The issue of what went wrong in the first place must also be addressed, this is a lower priority than achieving a workable solution, but nevertheless needs addressing, progress will not be made in the future without understanding the ‘now’ problems, this should not be a ‘blame’ witch-hunt on this occasion but people must clearly understand that incompetence will not be tolerated in the future.

In the case of 3). Work needs to be resumed now unless the government wants to advertise the gem which is the Algarve in terms of a principal road (EN125) as a half completed building site, or a work in progress building site during the principal tourist season.  

The damage ‘no action’ will do in this case will be to colour the Algarve in visitors minds as a place where nobody in authority gives a thought to the visitor.  This is treating the goose which lays the golden eggs with contempt, people tend not to forget such treatment quickly.  Surely someone in government has the authority to say ‘do it’, does the army have the capability to help, I assume they have ‘construction troops’ of some kind.  

If an ‘old codger’ like me can identify what needs to be done, surely someone in authority can make it happen, or can they??

Adrian Wooldridge

By email