Portugal’s Minister of Infrastructure, Pedro Marques, is in the Algarve and rather bravely has announced that the roadworks on the EN125 can resume by the end of the year, or early 2017, and may indeed be finished as early as next summer but it all depends on the successful renegotiation of the contract with Rotas do Algarve Litoral.
"We are currently concluding negotiations with the concession holder. I wish to close these by the end of the year, so work can restart," explained Marques who is in the Algarve to meet the region’s mayors and business leaders to showcase the possibilities for European funding for the region.
"When the negotiation is complete and when the necessary permits are obtained, the rest of the works, which are the responsibility of the concession holder, can go ahead and the government will be able to pay what is owed," said Marques.
The minister suggested the Vila do Bispo to Olhão roadworks that have still to be completed "are quite limited," and should be completed “by the summer" - hopefully referring to summer 2017.
Only after the conclusion of contract negotiations for the western roadworks can the east be attended to i.e. between Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António. When the negotiations are finished, “the eastern section roadworks will move ahead depending on Portugal Infrastructure’s budget.”
As for the EN125 roadworks that stopped for the summer, scheduled to be restarted on September 1st, the government minister said that people will just have to wait.
"We will, with a bit of patience, complete all the negotiations and all the works will resume at the end of this period, because there is no lack of financial capacity of the State to pay the concessionaire," assured Pedro Marques, blaming the paperwork rather than the government’s ability to pay up for work completed.
Jorge Botelho, president of the Algarve’s mayors group AMAL and formerly a vociferous campaigner for the roadworks to be completed, agreed with the minister that it’s all down to the paperwork, forgetting perhaps that the government is in charge of paperwork and licenses.
The Court of Auditors which oversees contracts, presumably gave the go-ahead in the first place or the roadworks would not have started, but the paperwork mysteriously now is not in order so everything stops.
Botelho seem now to have the gift of great hindsight, "We already knew that negotiations were ongoing and the company moved forward with the road works in the expectation that this process would quickly resolved," which turned out not to be the case.
AMAL now hope that this bureaucratic tangle is resolved as soon as possible “because each day of delay brings a huge loss to the Algarve."
In the meantime, while the paperwork gets shuffled around to the detriment of the public, Botelho agrees that, "the road is getting worse.”