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Inaugural tour of the ferry shows that “connection is not feasible and that there are no interested passengers”, says Paulino Ascenção

Paulino Ascenção, coordinator of the Madeira Left Block, says that “the ferry makes its inaugural voyage yesterday with 16% of the seats occupied, thus fulfilling the intention to demonstrate that the connection is not viable and that there are no interested passengers in a process conducted from the outset with bad faith by the Regional Government to protect the interests installed and not to serve the Madeiran population.”

“The tender was launched under restrictive conditions for the carriage of cargo and in the context of high port charges to discourage any potential interested parties from submitting a proposal and thus protect the operator who dominates the transport of containerised cargo between Madeira and the mainland. Cargo is critical to the ferry’s viability as it is not affected by seasonality. Once the desired winner of the tender was known, the port taxes were reduced by the Regional Government, “he said in a press release.

In addition, it states that “there are a number of aspects which show the absolute lack of interest in this operation on the part of the ship-owner and the Regional Government, which add to the conditions contained in the specifications to remove potential interested parties, such as prohibitive freight especially in the direction Portimão-Funchal in which it is seven times more expensive than the same item reverse route; the late announcement of the operation and the start of ticket sales; the absurd impossibility of buying a ticket between Portimão and the Canaries and the obligation of transit passengers to disembark in Funchal and check-in again to continue travel and the lack of promotion / information campaigns with the public and agents of travels”.

Paulino Ascenção understands that “we are not faced with the fulfilment of a promise made to the people to reintroduce the maritime connection of passengers, but rather the fulfilment of a promise made to the ‘owner of Madeira’ to protect their interests.”