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Algarve tolls to be voted on in parliament

5280The 'Algarve without Tolls' movement leaders have delivered a petition to parliament with 6,500 signatures, 2,500 more than is needed to ensure the topic again is debated by MPs.

A delegation from the movement delivered its "Petition for an end to tolls on the Via do Infante" to Guilherme Silva, the vice president of the National Assembly, and believes that the number of signatures collected in a short time “is quite indicative of the fact that the Algarve population continues not to give up over the tremendous injustice they have suffered for three years."

The movement leaders say the tolls on the Via do Infante not only have affected tourism but also the regional economy and the lives of the region's workers.

Although this is not the first initiative of its kind to be brought to Parliament, the movement hopes to confront those parties who introduced the tolls more than three years ago and to force a debate where Algarve MPs can at least put the counter argument to the government mantra of 'user pays.'

The coalition government introduced the tolls system amid howls of protest from the Algarve’s motorists and businesses, and oversaw a 50% reduction in motorway use and a commensurate rise in traffic on the EN125. The promised €200 million upgrade of the EN125, offered as a sop to keep Algarve councils quiet, was cancelled shortly after the tolls started.

The ruling parties since have failed to produce the promised independent report into the affects the tolls have had on the regional economy and, when the subject has made it to parliament for debate, have voted on party lines to keep the tolls.

This is despite a business model that ensures a subsidy is sent off each year to the Spanish owned concession holder to compensate for the inevitable drop in traffic.

"The movement now awaits the petition to follow the normal course of events and regardless of the result in parliament we will carry on the fight against the tolls and, given the growing number of people who complain about them, we plan more actions to fight for the Algarve people and to transform the Algarve into a toll-free region."

It is unlikely the government will allow a free vote and the petition inevitably will be rejected by a government embarrassed by the financial mess the tolls represent and unable to pay off the concession holder under its 'guaranteed revenue' model.

Comments  

-10 #2 Gail Serra 2015-03-23 15:35
And you cannot put a monetary value on the lives that have been lost since forcing people to use the very dangerous EN125 again. This government has no shame, They would rather endanger more lives than back down.
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-9 #1 David Home 2015-03-23 13:13
The annual cost paid by the government to the owners must be a great worry.
As a part measure, consideration could be given to cutting the tolls by 50%, and any increase in traffic volume beyond twice the current flow would reduce the subsidy and improve the economy of the Algarve, resulting in increased government revenue. At a minimum, this could be tried for a six month period to check the validity of the idea.
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