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Greece introduces tolls at Promachon and Nimfeia

08 April 2015 / 13:04:00  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Since the beginning of the summer season this year, those who cross the Bulgarian-Greek border at the border-crossing point Kulata-Promachon will pay a toll for using the highway. The toll booths are in the final phase of construction and are located about two kilometres after the Greek border checkpoint.

GRReporter approached company Egnatia Odos SA, which manages the Egnatia highway, to provide more information on the introduction of the toll. Miltiadis Bougalis, head of Highway Operation, Management and Maintenance Department answered our questions. The conversation highlighted that toll booths will operate in the section of the Egnatia Odos from Komotini to the Nimfeia-Makaza border-crossing point.

Mr. Bougalis, when will the toll booths at the border-crossing point Promachon-Kulata start operating? Where exactly are they? What will be the cost of passing through them?

The works associated with the placement of toll booths are in the final phase. They are after the road fork to the village of Angistro towards the border.

So far, the price is unclear because it is determined by the Ministry of Transport. It is planned that the toll booths will become operational in early summer. However, the relevant ministry has to issue resolutions with regard to all these matters, as I have already said. The obligation of the company is only to build the toll booths.

Under EU law, citizens are entitled to choose whether to use the highway against a fee or use another road on the same route. Is this provided for in this case?

There are parallel roads at the place of question. European legislation actually provides for the existence of parallel roads to be used by car owners who do not want to use the highway. Therefore, there are alternative routes in the region near the Greek-Bulgarian border and on all sections managed by Egnatia Odos.

In Serres, there already are responses to the placement of toll booths, the argument for them being that this will affect one-day trips of Greeks to Bulgaria and of Bulgarians to Greece. What is your opinion on this issue and how do you think the imposition of a toll fee will affect trade?

The obligation to pay fees for the use of highways is related to the cost of expenses for their maintenance. Over the past 10 years and with the help of the European Union Greece has built highways but the cost of maintenance has to be additionally ensured. This is the meaning of the introduction of tolls.

As to the likelihood of a reduction in car traffic through the border crossing point, our research and that at international level shows no change in the use of highways after the imposition of a toll fee.

However, all this is to be established on the spot after the toll booths become operational.

Will toll booths be placed near other border-crossing points to Bulgaria?

Yes, in the section to Komotini, near Nimfeia. The construction should be completed by the beginning of 2016. I reiterate that the final decision on these matters is taken by the ministry.

Citizens should be aware that the payment of tolls is of great importance for maintaining the roads in good condition.

However, public opinion in Serres towards the introduction of a toll near the border is rather negative. In comments to GRReporter, a resident of the city said that the measure would reduce one-day trips of Greeks who visit Bulgaria for several hours to fuel their cars and to obtain cheaper food and other goods.

"I think that the commercial and other sites in Petrich and Sandanski will be affected the most. We do not yet know the cost of the toll but along with the Bulgarian disc that costs 5 euro, the total cost will amount to almost 10 euro."

In addition, he said that one-day trips of Bulgarians to Greece would probably decline too. "I am talking about the residents of the regions near the border who come to spend a day on the beach. This will affect concessioners who rent umbrellas and beach chairs."

In his words, the introduction of the toll would probably not affect tourism on the island of Thassos and on Halkidiki.

 

Tags: EconomyCompaniesEgnatia highwayToll boothsGreek-Bulgarian borderKulata-PromachonMakaza-Nimfea
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