Monday, October 20, 2014

The cesspit; Portuguese tolls; & Fun at a roundabout.

A few illustrations to back up my comments yesterday about the cesspool of corruption, nepotism and croneyism on which modern Spain so handsomely floats:

1. The replacement judge - the first one was fired for excessive zeal - has pronounced that none of the 12 rail and rail-track executives implicated in the accident which killed 80 people last year should stand trial for anything. Only the hapless driver, a useful scapegoat. Perhaps there'll be a civil case for negligence. And perhaps there won't. The Victims' Association, desperate for justice, says there will be.

2. Not for the first time, Spain's central intelligence agency, the CNI, has been shown to be a hotbed of nepotism. 75% of the positions have been given to applicants related to incumbents. I suspect this is connected with the Spanish belief that the only people you can really trust are your relatives. Which may, of course, be right. Except for the black sheep.

3. Just in - The mayoress of a town in Andalucia stands accused of favouring companies belonging to her husband and her relative to the tune of many millions. Then there's the 470 examples of nepotism in her administration. Showing that corruption is an equal opportunities employer, she's a member of the United Left party. Presumably all this was an open secret before anything was done about it, as she was in power from 1999. But, then, it is Andalucia. Anyway, the lady has resigned - "To spend more time with my family" - boasting "I'm leaving with the feeling of satisfaction of having done my job and done it well." Well, that's now for a judge to determine. And not before time. But I'm guessing she won't go to jail. Doubtless she knows where other bodies lie.

To more everyday matters . . . For my 2 recent trips to Portugal. I again had to wrestle with their crazy tolls system. In an article in El País today, this was described as farragoso de mínimo. Or 'cumbersome/convoluted/involved/dense, to say the least'. On both occasions, I neglected to pay the silly tolls of 20c, 30c or even 50c which are 'collected' via cameras on overhead gantries. I reckon I must owe 20 or 30 euros by now. This is only a tiny fraction of the huge amounts owed by Spanish transport companies, it seems. A total of €11m in all. But now the Portuguese government is using a Spanish law firm to track down the offending drivers and I may just get a letter soon. I hasten to add that I pay the much larger tolls on the motorways from the border down to the south of the country. You might think this is because you can't avoid them. But, in fact, you can as Portugal's Via Verde lane doesn't have a barrier. According to the writer of the El País article, an awful lot of picaresco Spaniards go straight through this gap. Maybe not for much longer.

Finally . . . You'll all recall the road in town which has had its (single) direction changed so many times the 2 roundabouts at each each have become semi-functional. At one end, the temporary yellow barriers were last week replaced by 3 of the town's ubiquitous (€450 each) stainless steel poles. The very next day, one understandably disorientated driver tried to drive - in the right direction - between 2 of the poles and got stuck. Anyway, here they are from upstream. 

And here they are downstream. Note that the temporary yellow barriers have returned. In front of the 3 poles. Planning? What planning? 


Alfred B. Mittington said...

I, and surely many other hapless readers of your blog, would be most grateful for an explanation of the Portuguese toll system. Such as where and on what kind of roads tolls are supposed to be paid, how one gets 'digitalized' so as to be allowed to drive on highways and by-ways, where further info can be had… To the best of your ability, and with full understanding that even you do not grasp it completely.

The fact is that I stay out of Portugual nowadays, as I do not want to get a heart attack when growing irritated by their inane and obscure system. Must be a great stimulus for the tourism industry!

Yours, Al (written from the Spanish side of the border through my village)

Colin Davies said...

Try this -

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Thank you.

I have decided to go to Siberia for my next holiday…


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