The Groot-Bijgaarden service station.

Transit migrant crisis :"We need help"

The Mayor of Dilbeek, near Brussels, is sounding the alarm: we need federal support to tackle the problems with transit migrants at our motorway service areas, he says. Yesterday, the Mayor in Jabbeke (West Flanders) had decided to close the motorway parking lot along the E40.

The motorway servicing areas on both sides of the E40 in Jabbeke will close during the night as from tomorrow, and this for at least three months, Jabbeke Mayor Daniël Vanhessche (christian democrat) announced yesterday. He took the decision in the aftermath of a shooting incident between two groups of transit migrants earlier this week. 

This morning, his colleague Willy Segers (nationalist) of Dilbeek, launched a new appeal for help. He was considering closing the parking lots in Groot-Bijgaarden for security reasons ("we could no longer guarantee the safety of truck drivers, staff and local police") but eventually didn't do it after the government promised more private security staff and more help from federal police. 

However, while this helped, it is still not enough, Segers told the VRT. The situation is getting worse again, he underlines in a new appeal to the federal authorities. 

Transit migrants are using motorway parking lots in Kruibeke (along the E17 near Antwerp), Jabbeke and Groot-Bijgaarden as hubs to get onto a truck to get into the U.K. illegally. This has triggered various incidents. Segers concludes: "Something has to happen, or this will run out of hand sooner or later." 

This will trigger even more unsafe situations

Interior Minister Jan Jambon says that he is prepared to talk to the Mayors who have a motorway parking lot in their municipality, and that he wants to discuss possible extra measures with them. He adds that closing parkings is not a good solution, because it will force truck drivers to park in the towns and villages nearby.

The transport sector has also rejected the decision to close the parking areas in Jabbeke. Spokesman Bruno Velghe points to the fact that other parking lots were closed before, and fears that in the end no parkings will be available. "We don't have enough parkings, comfort standards are too low and they are unsafe', he told the VRT. If lorries need to park in the nearby towns, this creates an unsafe situation for everybody, he adds.