Haulage firms to protest road tolls in Brussels on 18 June

Summary

Lorry drivers will take to the streets of the capital next Thursday in protest at Flanders’ new road use fees, which come into effect next year

Disruption expected

The three federations representing the road haulage industry have agreed to a common action next Thursday, 18 June, in protest at the Flemish government’s plans to introduce a road use fee for all lorries larger than 3.5 tonnes.

The toll will apply on all major roads in Flanders starting in April next year, varying between €0.074 and €0.2 per kilometre depending on the type, weight and emissions level of the vehicle. The toll is expected to raise €310 million a year and, according to the government, ensure that the cost of maintaining the roads is met by those who use them the most.

“Transport companies will pass the cost on to customers; they see no other option,” said Isabelle De Maegt of transport federation Febetra. “And if that happens, even the most healthy companies will be bankrupt within a month. We are also asking for accompanying measures to ensure our competitive position, given the difficult conditions in which we have to operate.”

According to the tariffs announced in May by Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts, the federations have calculated that a lorry averaging 80,000 kilometres a year on Flanders’ motorways will have to pay €10,240 a year in tolls, instead of the €1,250 it now costs for the eurovignet certificate covering Benelux, Denmark and Sweden. That certificate will still be required for the rest of those countries.

On 18 June, lorry drivers are expected to take their protest to the roads in Brussels. The protest is likely to take the form of a parade of lorries through the centre of the city, so some disruption to traffic can be expected.

Photo: A protest of by the truck driving industry in 2008 led to traffic jams in the capital
©Belpress

Traffic in Flanders

Thousands of commuters and foreigners pass through Brussels and Flanders each day, and the two regions have suffered from heavily congested traffic and long and frequent traffic jams for years – with no end seemingly in sight.
Record - According to the 2013 report from traffic information platform Inrix, Brussels and Antwerp have the most traffic congestion of any city in Europe and North America.
Calendar - October is the worst month of the year for traffic jams.
Causes - Year after year, heavy snowfall and railway strikes lead to monster traffic jams. Heavy congestion, infrastructure works and multi-lane accidents cause the more ordinary daily tailbacks.
1 285

largest area covered in traffic ever recorded in Belgium in kilometres

70

time Antwerp drivers spend in gridlock per year in hours

10 000

traffic diversions in Flanders per year