SINN Féin’s Maurice Quinlivan TD reacted to the news that the operators of the Limerick Tunnel will be paid up to €9.63 million by the taxpayer, as a result of the deal entered into by a previous Fianna Fáil government.
The Traffic Guarantee payments to DirectRoute (Limerick) Ltd increased from €3.88 million in 2019 to €9.63 million last year as toll income declined by 29 per cent from €16.76 million to €11.96 million due to the Covid-19 lockdown impact on traffic volumes.
Speaking on the news, the Limerick City TD said:
“The Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee in 2018 heard that the operators of the Limerick Tunnel have already been paid €34 million by the state, due to the lower than expected number of people using the tunnel. The PAC was also told then that the operators of the Limerick Tunnel are likely to be paid up to €200 million by the taxpayer, as a result of the deal entered into by a previous Fianna Fáil government.
“At that time an official of Transport Infrastructure Ireland went on to say that ‘conservative estimates’ would indicate that an additional €150 million will need to be paid during the lifetime of the contract.
“This is a shameful waste of taxpayers’ money.
“The Limerick Tunnel is a great piece of infrastructure for the Mid-West, but regrettably it is not being used enough because of the tolls.
“The tolling of the tunnel has resulted in many opting to avoid it, as it is simply too expensive. We heard recently from Limerick Council that almost 80% of the traffic that crossed the Condell Bridge turned left and it was suspected most of this traffic would have used the tunnel, avoiding the City centre if it wasn’t tolled.
“Unfortunately this avoiding of the tolls has also resulted in traffic congestion in Limerick City centre.
“The agreement was signed in August 2006, while Fianna Fáil were in government and will continue to 2041 so despite this massive bill coming as a shocking reminder to the rest of us, this is not news to them, as this horrendous deal was signed under their watch.”
“Fianna Fáil’s TDs were front and centre at the opening of the Limerick Tunnel in 2010, but when the bill for €200 million comes in, they are nowhere to be seen.
“The agreement to build this tunnel using a Public Private Partnership was signed at the height of the boom in 2006, when the country was flush with money, and the state had the resources to finance it.
“Last year due to the pandemic and travel restrictions with people staying and often working from home toll income declined by 29 per cent which means under the Traffic Guarantee payments to DirectRoute (Limerick) Ltd increased from €3.88 million in 2019 to an incredible €9.63 million
“Unfortunately we are seeing and paying the cost for the PPP was used, and this has tied the hands of future government’s and left them with no choice but to pay the hugely expensive terms.”