Monchique fire - another Commission to be set up 'to move forward with solutions'

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MonchiqueTownViewIt becomes increasingly clear that the Algarve is ill-prepared to cope with the aftermath of a serious event, such as the recent fire in Monchique.

A raft of groups, official and unofficial, have been trying to fill the yawning gaps left in the State’s relief provision. The government's various agencies has proved it has little impact on fire prevention and even less idea on what to do when serious, widespread fires damage areas both physically and economically.

The latest initiative to be set up in Monchique is a ‘Revitalisation Commission’ that will ‘to move forward with solutions.’

Delegates from Algfuturo met in Monchique yesterday with a view to creating this new working group which “will be able to move forward faster with solutions on the ground.”

At the meeting, measures were demanded for clearing burnt forest areas, social support, clearing trees near roads, stablising the now-bare slopes, and all the other measures that are patently obvious to locals but seem to have officials stumped.

It was pointed out by Algfuturo that “help is needed on all fronts and information sharing is needed with the various state agencies involved.”

Despite the plethora of agencies, and the mayor himself fronting a specially commission to suggest solutions and map out a way forward, it was decided to create a Monchique Revitalisation Commission which will “request meetings with CCDR-Algarve, the University, RTA, Regional Directorate of Agriculture, ICN and ARS Algarve.”

After this exhaustive process, "a document will be prepared to send to the President of the Republic and deliver to parliament," reads a note from Algfuturo, headed by the former politician, José Vitorino.

This additional layer of bureaucracy will be composed of representatives from Algfuturo, Monchique’s existing associations, a representative from the foreign community and a young person.

José Vitorino said that, "Algfuturo will provide technical assistance and create a fund for support in cases of expenses with administrative procedures in the most needy situations." He did not say where the fund would get its money and how it differed from other funds already set up to distribute money.

Vitorino is a former Secretary of State for Emigration and Portuguese Communities; former MP, former Civil Governor of Faro and a former Mayor of Faro.

Algfuturo was created, according to its website, "to affirm and defend the Region and to support companies and individuals, in an innovative and unique legal and operational model in Portugal. It is a Business and Socio-cultural Association. It is implemented throughout the Region, economic, social, cultural and youth sectors, and its main bases of action are: the study of realities; the information to the adherents; the wealth of the contributions in open participation in the site algfuturo.pt and the direct accompaniment of the realities of the region."

The new Monchique Revitalisation Commission epitomises Portugal’s haphazard, multi-agency approach to disaster relief provision.

With managers from the National Authority for Civil Protection to face negligent homicide charges over their behaviour at Pedrógão Grande last October, (HERE), if there was a serious event that affected the Algarve, such as a tsunami, there is no evidence that the State will do anything more than count the bodies and issue press announcements.


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