Government narrowly rejects proposal to end tolls on Via do Infante A22
The Via do Infante User Commission (CUVI) have announced that the ruling Socialist Party (PS) has rejected a proposal calling for the elimination of tolls on the A22 as part of the State Budget (OE) for 2020. “The PS again showed its arrogance and contempt for the Algarve and its populations,” said the CUVI.
The commission publicly denounced the position which the Socialist Party took in the Assembly of the Republic, choosing to vote against the proposals for changes to the State Budget for 2020, which proposed the exemption of toll fees on the A22. In other words, for the fifth consecutive time, the PS again failed to approve the elimination of tolls in the Algarve, being accompanied by the CDS- People’s Party in the vote.
The PSD limited itself to opting for abstention, as it knew that voting alongside the Socialist Party would be enough to outright reject the proposal, originally presented by the Left Bloc (BE) and the Portuguese Communist Party. According to the CUVI, the Left Bloc “was the only party that presented an individualized proposal to end the tolls on Via do Infante, while the Communist Party proposed to end tolls en bloc, at no cost to users, which it would be more difficult to approve”.
With this in mind, the pro-toll abolition group commented that “the PS again showed its arrogance and contempt for the Algarve and its populations, along the same lines as Prime Minister António Costa and his government”.
They allege that prime-minister António Costa “has completely forgotten the promises he made to the Algarve in 2015, to study the Public-Private Partnership contract (a personal promise he made to the Users Commission at a joint meeting in Quarteira) and to eliminate tolls in the Algarve, recognizing that the EN125 had become a cemetery due to the high number of road accidents and victims on this road”.
As is well known, “in addition to the high losses they have caused at the economic, financial and mobility levels, tolls have triggered road accidents in the region, especially on the EN125, which is not yet fully upgraded between Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António , being considered one of the most dangerous and deadly roads in the country”. This road is the most commonly used alternative to the A22 for those wanting to dodge tolls.
According to figures provided by the National Road Safety Authority 2019 ended with more than 10,000 road accidents in the Algarve, having caused 36 fatalities and 220 serious injuries.
“This is an immense tragedy that has destroyed so many lives and families and that, at the very least, should make governments and other officials who persist in maintaining wrong, unfair and criminal tolls fill with same!” the group adds.
On the other hand, they also criticize the PSD, stating that it “is also very bad, because if it were so, instead of abstaining, if it had voted in favour of the proposals, tolls would be abolished in the Algarve, even against the wishes of the PS. Then PSD Algarve deputies come to accuse others and cry crocodile tears saying that they defend the Algarve. Little shame and hypocrisy have no limits!”
In conclusion, the CUVI target all who refused to vote for the toll abolition, saying: “PS, PSD and CDS continue to defend an obscure and criminal system, which harms public money and which has only served to fill the pockets of the private concessionaire”. Thus, “the Algarve can only continue to fight for a region free of tolls. The Users Commission will seek to reactivate, expand and intensify the fight in this direction in the near future”.