Taxpayers left on the hook for empty toll roads during Covid-19 pandemic - Darren O'Rourke TD
Sinn Féin TD for Meath East Darren O’Rourke today challenged the Minister for Transport on whether the taxpayer will be left to foot the bill for underused toll roads during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Speaking in Leinster House this afternoon, the Meath East TD said;
“This afternoon I challenged the Minister for Transport in the Dáil on whether the Irish taxpayer will be left on the hook for under used toll roads during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, the Minister for Transport indicated that this will indeed be the case; which unsurprising I suppose - given the gold-plated nature of these Fianna Fáil era contracts.
“A consequence of poor planning and financial incompetence on the part of consecutive governments, these lucrative PPP contracts have been a loser for the State year-on-year.
“In normal circumstances, the taxpayer would be left to pay hundreds of millions in so called ‘traffic guarantee’ clauses, where the State has to pay subsidies for lower than expected traffic levels.
“The Public Accounts Committee was previously told that the Limerick Tunnel alone would cost the State up to €200 million under these traffic guarantees.
“However, today the Minister confirmed that the State will also have to foot the bill for the empty toll roads during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is an absolute disgrace, and it will infuriate people. There are so many more important issues that need investment and prioritisation post Covid-19, and toll road operators certainly aren’t one of them in my opinion.
“It is unfortunate that these private companies had significantly fewer cars passing through their tolls during March and April, but this was unavoidable given the circumstances, and so the taxpayer should not be left picking up the tab.”