Lorries stop traffic in Brussels in protest at road tolls

Summary

Haulage federations say truck drivers are being unfairly targeted for road tolls imposed by the government of Flanders

Talks begin today

Some 350 lorries blocked traffic on the inner Ring Road in Brussels yesterday, a demonstration organised by three road haulage industry federations. The action was in protest at government plans to impose a road toll on lorries over 35 tonnes from April of next year.

The protest (pictured) ended with a promise from Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts that the region will introduce measures to compensate haulage companies, which say they are being singled out for a road toll that is not – or not yet – being proposed for cars. Lorries are an easy target, According to Willy Van Loon, chair of the Febetra federation.

“But people need to realise that their consumption patterns couldn’t exist without lorries,” he said. “As long as there’s not a seaport on the Meir in Antwerp or railway lines up the Louizalaan, we’ll need lorries to supply the shops.”

The federation demanded the income from the toll be reinvested in mobility projects. “Otherwise this looks like nothing but a covert form of taxation.”

Weyts repeated his promise that €100 million of the income from the toll will go to infrastructure projects. In addition, the government is proposing the scrapping of the EU certificate, a reduction in road tax for some vehicles, and a lowering of salary costs as compensatory measures. The transport sector and the government of Flanders were due to begin talks today.

“The government is prepared to invest the major part of the income from road tolls in mobility,” Van Loon said. “That’s good for all road users and should in time lead to less congestion.”

Photo by Thierry Roge/BELGA

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