I have heard for years about Alcoutim's ambition to build a bridge over the Guadiana, which will put it in direct contact with the neighboring population of Sanlúcar de Guadiana and the neighboring municipalities of Granado, S. Silvestre de Guzmán, etc.
An old dream, which perhaps limited those people to think of other alternatives that would restore social and economic dynamics to the municipality of Nordeste Algarvio, which is so lacking in them.
In the context of the recent Smuggling Festivals and in all conversations with Alcoutenejos, everyone is unanimous: if there was the bridge, the bridge... the bridge... What a miracle that will change Alcoutim forever...
Now, the reality on the left bank of the river, in Spain, is not very different from what we see in Alcoutim, as I was able to see at the last festival, when I arrived in Sanlúcar, after spending a whole morning and part of the afternoon getting to know those Andalusian municipalities, forgotten as much or more by Madrid than the Portuguese neighbors by Lisbon.
Crossing those territories of the province of Huelva is not very different from the territories on the right bank of the Guadiana, perhaps desertification is even greater in the Andalusian mountains.
One cannot see in Pomarão, in the neighboring municipality of Mértola, a strong dynamic provided by the bridge over the Chança stream, which has connected the municipalities of Mértola and Granado, next to that village, for about 15 years.
Also the bridge in Castro Marim, inaugurated some 30 years ago, has not taken more inhabitants to the municipalities of Vila Real de Santo António or Castro Marim.
Incidentally, in the last 2021 censuses, these two municipalities even lost inhabitants.
For all these reasons, it causes me some perplexity how politicians in Alcoutim can believe that that county will be transformed economically and socially with the construction of a bridge, which these days they are rushing to build.
Can a weakened territory, connected by a bridge to another weakened one, generate wealth? And constitute the exception in relation to Pomarão or even Castro Marim/Vila Real de Santo António?
Shouldn't the 9 million euros earmarked for that infrastructure be invested in the production of another type of wealth? In the creation of jobs, with the fixation of people?
The Council could even acquire vacant houses in a village, recover them and rent them out at symbolic prices, or use some of these buildings as company headquarters, or even digital nomads, as is in fashion!
Or bet on a development strategy centered on nature tourism, leveraging local resources!
There would certainly still be money left over for so many other possibilities, which seem more feasible to me.
Will not the politicians defending the bridge remain, and it seemed to me that there was unanimity in the town in its execution, for history as executors of a lost work? A white elephant? Nine million euros is a lot of money to, or I am mistaken, literally be thrown into the river…
Perhaps it would be opportune to assume the error as soon as possible, as there is no point in assigning or assuming responsibilities later...
Take advantage of the opportunity to develop that territory, which will certainly not happen again, but not with the bridge...
Author Nuno Santos is an engineer