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the border in Spain they do not pay them at all.” The previous government’s decision to introduce tolls came after a special session of the Council of Ministers. Prime Minister, Santana Lopes, justified the new policy by saying it stemmed from “a marriage between government decisions and the national interest”.
Tolls will “increase accidents
on the EN125”
President of the Algarve Tourist Board (RTA), Helder Martins, told Resident reporter Gabriel Hershman that the move was retrogressive. “It’s a really bad development for tourism. People who arrive in the Algarve from Andalusia will now have a further barrier to cross,” said Martins.
“Who will decide who qualifies as a resident and who will provide them with the identification they need? Many vehicles will cease travelling down the A22 and will use the EN125 instead. But the EN125 is not a viable alternative route. In fact, it is not really a road at all – it is a street with shops and cafés. There are already so many accidents on the EN125 – a couple of weekends ago two people were killed near Boliqueime.” Martins said he felt let down by the government’s decision. “A few months ago the government said no to new tolls. We all know that the SCUT system is draining for the government because they pay so much to subsidise it. But this is not the answer. We don’t want a return to the bad old days when it took two hours to drive from Faro to Lagos.”
A return to the past
The Algarve’s Socialist Party said it would be petitioning Parliament in protest. “These people seem to have forgotten what is was like when the EN125 was ‘the death highway’,” noted Miguel Freitas, Leader of the Algarve’s Socialist Party. He said the A22 had reduced fatalities on the EN125 by 60 per cent.
Freitas also stressed that the measure would mark “a return to the past, particularly in respect of accidents on the EN125.” Elidérico Viegas, the Head of the Algarve’s Association of Hotels and Tourist Enterprises (AHETA), also highlighted practical problems: “The installation of tolls is complicated because the motorway has dozens of entrances and exits,” he said.