Foreigners flouting the Ghent circulation rules escape without a fine

Since a new circulation plan was adopted in the Ghent city centre, certain streets are forbidden for through traffic. However, while Ghent residents flouting the rules are being fined, foreign car drivers escape without a fine, for technical reasons. The city of Antwerp has a similar problem with imposing fines on foreigners entering the low-emission zone with older vehicles. 

The main aim of the plan is to have fewer cars and polluting traffic in the city centre. Seven streets have been barred for through traffic but each year, some 50,000 drivers are being caught red-handed. This is good news for the city coffers, as this generates some 2.7 million euros each year. However, some 500,000 euros are not being taken in, because these fines apply to cars with a foreign number plate, mostly Dutch or French citizens. 

Veli Yüksel, a former VRT journalist who is now leading the Ghent Christian democrat opposition, brought this into the open adding that it's beyond reason that the city is leaving no stone unturned to fine local residents, while foreigners are escaping.  This is because it's not police, but local civil servants doing the job. 

Filip Watteeuw admits the present situation is unfair, but retorts that the Ghent administration is working out a solution to be able to fine foreign drivers as from January 2019. Watteeuw adds that "the number of drivers ignoring the new rules has dropped by 40 percent since October last year. We are seeing fewer cars in the centre: the number of road accidents is 30 percent down and the number of people using public transport is 10 percent up."

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