By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]
While drivers braved the rain and high winds to take to the EN125 on October 8 to protest against the introduction of tolls on the A22, Civil Governor Isilda Gomes has said she is in favour of the levy, blaming the global economic crisis for the need to introduce them.
In a statement to the Algarve Resident this week, she said: “We live in a time when we have to recognise that the international situation is imposing governments and countries to take measures and form policies to enable social and economic stability. It is against this background of global financial crisis that on a national scale extraordinary measures are being put in place to aid economic recovery.”
She added: “We must not forget that it is under austerity measures in Portugal that there has been the need to introduce tolls on the SCUT roads such as the A22.”
In reference to the Algarve specifically and the A22 and EN125, Isilda Gomes said: “I believe that all aspects of the implementation that penalise the people and business that use the Via do Infante on a daily basis should be considered until a real alternative is available for users.
“Perfect safety conditions and the requalification of the EN125 need to be put in place and only this can help to boost the regional economy and ensure the future and progress of the region.”
Vitor Neto, the chairman of the Algarve business association, NERA, has criticised the “weak” political standing that the Algarve has in Lisbon as one of the reasons behind the A22 being targeted for tolls.
“The Algarve has shown its weak political clout once again which, with its significant economy which generates much needed revenue, should be of more interest to the entire country. Central government decides not to listen to the Algarve and the Algarve does not counter this and this failing is the Algarve’s alone,” he said.
He continued by suggesting that the people and businesses of the Algarve need to come together to fight the tolls because they are not a “privilege” and would be “detrimental” to the economic development of such a significant region in Portugal.
While there has been little support from the Civil Governor in calling for the tolls on the A22 to be scrapped, the Comisão de Utentes da Via do Infante, the commission of users set up to fight the introduction of tolls, has praised the actions of local protestors.
A spokesman for the group said: “We welcome the action on October 8 and believe that the protest proved to be a positive display against the tolls.
“Despite the protest struggling against the constraints of a lack of funding, being organised by a newly formed and still expanding commission, only having a short time for organisation and bad weather conditions, still more than 200 cars took part in the demonstration.”
Protesters travelled between Boliqueime and Alcantarilha along the EN125, a distance of 20 kilometres which took around two hours to complete.
“The traffic was completely jammed along the route and this would be the case regardless of works done on the EN125,” said the spokesman. “Imagine the pandemonium that the protest could have caused if it had been scheduled to take place through more urban areas instead.”
The commission is now working to continue to gain signatures for the petition against the tolls on the A22 while members continue to make contact with politicians, business leaders and labour unions to help to stop the tolls on the A22.
The petition against the tolls on the A22 already has almost 6,000 signatures. If you would like to sign the petition please visit http://viadoinfante2010.blogspot.com (only available in Portuguese).
Alternatively, visit The Resident Group at stand 155 at BLiP this weekend and a member of the team will assist you in signing the petition. Please remember to bring your passport or ID card.
If you have a view on this subject, please email us at [email protected]
You can also read posted comments from Algarve Resident readers by clicking on “say no to tolls”.