De Lijn reopens underground bus stop at Brussels’ North Station
Buses of the Flemish public transport company De Lijn will depart again from Brussels North Station on Friday. After “constructive consultations with all parties concerned, there are sufficient guarantees to lift the temporary stop near the station, the transport company announces.
The decision of closing the stop was made a week ago because Flemish Transport Minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) and De Lijn thought there were a lack of hygiene and a feeling of insecurity by the trans-migrants staying there.
Outcry of accusations
The whole issue, which caused the start and end stop of thirty bus lines to be moved, led to an outcry of accusations between Minister Weyts and De Lijn and the mayors of the municipalities concerned, the City of Brussels and the Brussels Region. Various travellers’ associations were also dissatisfied with the measure.
But now the difficulties have been overcome. Agreements have been made about the cleanliness and safety of the bus station. There will be extra dustbins and a large container for the waste after food distribution. In addition, the waste inside and outside the station will be removed more often.
More clearing and security
Urinals will be installed to reduce urinating in the wild. Cleaning teams will be called in more often, also at the weekends. On December 8th, the Red Cross will open a night shelter for trans-migrants who gather in the nearby Maximilian Park but who are now looking for warmth during the winter and sleep in masses in the hall underneath the station, resulting in inconvenience.
To guarantee security, the Brussels police will patrol the station all day long. De Lijn control service will also have a direct line with the police. Finally, the drugs problem in the CCN building, the transport hub with office buildings in which the North Station is located, will also be tackled and lighting will be provided in the dark corners.
Hopes on new terminal
Director-General of De Lijn Roger Kesteloot announced that the first measures were already visible on the field. “We are confident that these agreements will significantly improve the situation”, he said.
Minister Weyts has announced that De Lijn first had to carry out the threat to move her stop to get everyone around the table and that he hopes that the new bus terminal outside the North Side, and for which Flanders wants to release 2 million euro, will arrive soon.
Not an optimal solution
The TreinTramBus passenger association also hopes that there will eventually be a “decent bus stop”. “It is good that several politicians have sat around the table together to find a solution, but it is not an optimal solution”, explains coordinator Peter Thoelen. “Even before the arrival of the trans-migrants it was already a dark stop.”
Responsibility of N-VA ministers
Brussels Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort (PS) is also satisfied, and especially for the travellers, that De Lijn will reopen the North Station stop.
The Brussels government has always found that the feeling of insecurity in the station is the responsibility of the party members of Weyts, Minister of the Interior Jan Jambon and Secretary of State for Migration Theo Francken, who does not tackle the problem of immigration at the base.
“Saying that everything is going well is wrong, but the problem is blown up, certainly because other members of the N-VA party maintain the problem. Mr. Francken only wants to process a limited number of asylum files per day. All persons who are refused, where do you think they are going? It is a vicious circle at the expense of migrants in the first place and then also the travellers.”
“If we had let the administrations do their job, it would have been arranged long ago and we would have avoided this bad theatre”, Vervoort explains.