The introduction of new road tolls in southern and central Portugal was delayed this week by the Portuguese government, which blamed the delay on the resignation of Prime Minister José Socrates.
New toll charges should have been introduced on 15th April 2011 on four national motorways, but an official statement said it would be “unconstitutional” for a caretaker government to introduce the tolls, and the decision should be taken only after the elections in June. The constitutional argument sounds a bit silly considering the gantries for the toll cameras have been built and the cameras are in place, with the investment having been made from a decision already taken by the government when it was not just a caretaker government.
The delay may be motivated by ongoing campaigns by locals in affected areas, who say they will take drastic action if the tolls are introduced. The most contentious of the four roads (A22, A23, A24 and A25) is the A22. The A22 will be a lucrative road for the government because it is heavily used by millions of tourists each year, but it is also a vital artery for the residents and businesses in the Algarve.
We wait to see if the new government in June continues with the toll – my guess is they will because with a multi-billion Euro loan coming in from the IMF, the Portuguese government needs to raise revenue fast to start paing off debt. Charges for cars will be between 25c and €1.50 at each bridge.