According to figures for December 2018, close to ten thousand vehicles a day were counted on the region’s only motorway.

Despite regular protests and the rising mortality rate on the EN125 road, the government has resisted calls to abolish tolls on the motorway.

And while more drivers are using the motorway, fatalities on roads in the region have continued to rise.

Latest figures point that the number of fatalities on the region’s roads has climbed from 29 to 42 in the past 12 months.

The data, released by the ANSR national road safety agency, further reveals that the Algarve has now caught up with the considerably more populated Greater Lisbon Metropolitan Area, which also recorded 42 fatalities the past year.

The Algarve also climbed to third in terms of serious injuries, behind the Greater Lisbon and Porto Metropolitan Areas.

There have also been a series of calls to abolish tolls in the Algarve in a bid to stop the rising number of deaths on the region’s roads.

At one stage, the Prime Minister appeared to agree with those opposing tolls on the A22 motorway.

A month before being elected as the country’s leader, António Costa referred to the EN125 as “a massacre” and a “cemetery”.

António Costa told reporters at the time that his party “had already stated that it was necessary to re-evaluate the contractual obligations the state has assumed”, adding that one of his party’s priorities was to go one step further and “eliminate” tolls and “create better access routes” in the Algarve and in the countryside.

The current prime minister later said that while he was “unenthusiastic about eliminating tolls”, some situations were in urgent need of an overhaul, such as the A22. But in February MPs were once again given the chance for reform and were asked to vote simultaneously on three proposals, all calling for tolls to be done away with on the Algarve’s only motorway.

The PSD Social Democrats and the CDS-PP abstained, while the ruling Socialist Party saw their MPs vote against, except for nine MPs, eight of whom are elected in the Algarve, who all backed the proposals to make the A22 motorway free to its users once more.

Since coming to power, the Socialist government made the concession to introduce a discount of 15 percent on previously free motorways, including the Algarve’s A22.