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Foreign motorway toll dodgers face court

tollsDrivers of foreign plated vehicles using Portugal's motorway network who have failed to pay for the privilege have been warned to pay the tolls of face a debt collection system that supposedly now stretches across national borders.

Approximately 300,000 drivers resident in Spain have dodged paying for their motorway journeys on visits to Portugal since 2009 and now owe €11 million  - across Europe the total can only be guessed at as the concessionaire companies have not admitted that the current multiple systems for payments has caused mass toll evasion.

The Portuguese motorways companies are demanding payment of debts owed by 40,000 wayward Galicians and within Spain there are records of 300,000 drivers that are only now being pursued in earnest for their overdue tolls.

No figures have been offered for French, German or any other foreign registered vehicles that are likely to have visited Portugal and not paid the tolls due.

The first notifications were issued in October 2013, but the Portuguese issuers admit that "not all were delivered" in a system that promised much but has been beset with delays and technical problems.

The amounts owed by drivers range between tens and hundreds of euros, but there are cases where the value is far higher, plus the €25 administrative cost.

Many foreign cases have already been to court, a process denied Portuguese drivers who fail for whatever reason to pay toll fees.

For the Portuguese locals it is straight to a coercive collection service, courtesy of Finanças which acts as a revenue collector for private motorway companies and has the power to seize and sell property to settle the smallest debt.

The government's fear of tens of thousands of individual court cases from Portuguese non-payers clogging up an overburdened and inefficient court system was just too much to bear, despite this running a coach and horses through most established systems of justice.

The law was changed and any national driver refusing to pay does not get his or her day in court - it's 'pay up and argue later,' in the time honoured Portuguese fashion.

Meanwhile, in Portugal the government is to spend €4.6 million on processing traffic fines as one in five fines is not followed up.
Over the next three years the National Road Safety Authority will spend the money on a third party to “help process paperwork.”  

The NRSA currently is understaffed and has a habit of contracting external workers to fill the gap. This keeps staff off the government books and often ends up costing more than using an efficient in-house team.

The temptation of a €4.6 million external contract will raise the probablity of someone in the know bidding for the work in return for cash or favours. This work either should be privatised on a proper commercial basis, or taken in house and done properly. It is one of the few government departments that has an income yet appears unable to cope with this oportunity.


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+2 #5 chiptheduck 2014-08-29 15:03
The words "stone" and "blood" come to mind.
+3 #4 scrabbler 2014-08-28 16:42
I am an EU Citizen not a foreigner, who do the Portuguese think they are? When they address me properly I might stop and pay!
+1 #3 Mike Towl 2014-08-28 09:08
So, I'm sitting in my Dacha on the outskirts of Minsk when the postman delivers a letter from a court in Faro telling me I owe €7.50 motorway fees from my last visit to my brother in Portugal who runs a successful crime syndicate in the Algarve. Pay up or else the letter says. Up yours I say.
+13 #2 RCK 2014-08-28 03:49
So the idiots who inhabit our parallel universe are at it again. A public relations disaster in the making me thinks.
+11 #1 jJohn Haigh 2014-08-27 21:09
These tolls are a complete waste of time and money.
How much is it going to cost to try and retrieve this debt through the courts. ?
The toll roads should have never been introduced .

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