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Olhão’s Berlin Wall to reopen

olhaoOlhão’s ‘Berlin Wall,’ the name given to the on:off series of impediments that have been erected to stop pedestrians crossing the railway line, as locals have been doing since March 28th 1904, is to be reopened on February 1st, after a month of being closed – and two years of being open.

In the cat and mouse game with railway company Infraestruturas de Portugal, the town hall has received an extension to a two-year special licence that allowed locals to cross the railway line, but only until 31st December 2017.

The local council has been working on a plan for two years, to create a design that widens the footpath running each side of the vehicle underpass so that wheelchair users, mums with buggies and anyone pulling a shopping trolley can use it in safety. Then the railway crossing will be closed for good, unless there is ehavy rain.

Many elderly find the underpass too steep, exhausting and unachievable so the footpath incline and width both need alteration, requirements that have stumped both the local council and the railway company.

The town hall’s failure to submit its underpass re-design to the railway company means that the special ‘pedestrian crossing licence’ ran out and the barrier gates again were closed, to the dismay of locals whose collective patience is close to the end.

In its latest volte face, one of a series, Infraestruturas de Portugal said that until it receives the design from the council, locals may continue to cross its hallowed railway track as long as there is a guard stood there to watch.

The crossing will be open only between 06:30 and 22:00 p.m. each day with the ratepayer-funded guard in place during these times.

The good sense of installing an automatic barrier each side of the railway, to halt pedestrians when a train is approaching or leaving the nearby station, has evaded both parties while a design is worked on for an inconvenient and expensive solution.

Locals have been quick to remove previously erected barriers and fencing blocking their progress to and from the centre of the city. When the underpass finally is altered, whatever above ground impediments are erected to force people through the underpass, are likely to suffer the same fate.

Previously, rolls of razor wire have been laid down by the railway company to stop people cutting across the track to a nearby local supermarket, instead of them taking the long way around. Even this military-grade assault on what locals saw as their freedom to walk where they wanted, did not last long.

The Berlin Wall saga has been covered extensively by social and local media – for good reason, as it epitomises the struggle of many State-owned enterprises with the twin concepts of reality and common sense.https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQeJsImM2jSfvntmhZBO4w-knKtA6Sq-l8Tw6LlXXi6WxBdtw_l