Governor backs idea of free highway passes for all

The Governor of Central Greece, Klearchos Pergantas, has heaped more pressure on the government over the issue of road tolls by backing a decision by the regional council to call for thousands of residents to be given free highway passes.

Following a meeting of its council, the Regional Authority of Central Greece adopted the position that none of its residents should pay to use the national road until a proper network of side roads and country roads had been completed, that rather than a fixed toll, drivers should be charged per kilometer, and that no tollbooth should be constructed between Schimatari and the island of Evia.

Pergantas said that the demands were a ?just social request?. ?The state is obliged to provide fully functional and safe highways, which people agree to pay for but if this is not provided, they are right to disagree with paying tolls.?

The government has found it a challenge in recent months to deal with a growing movement by citizens to refuse to pay tolls. Dubbed the ?I won?t pay? movement, its supporters regularly force open the bars at tollbooths to allow motorists to pass without charge.

Campaigners say that it is unfair for citizens to be asked to pay more tolls when the contractors have yet to finish a number of highway projects and the government does not invest in the upkeep or improvement of toll-free roads.

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