Jonas Roosens

Mohamed Ridouani is Leuven mayor

Mohamed Ridouani has been sworn in as the new mayor of Leuven. Mr Ridouani makes history as the first Flemish burgomaster of Moroccan descent in a major town.

The depot "Wissenhage" will be located in the north of the city and cost 111 million euros.  Existing De Lijn depots in Gentbrugge and Destelbergen can no longer cope.  The new Albatross trams that will soon be taken into service measure 43 metres and cannot be stored.  De Lijn has ordered an awful lot of new rolling stock so the situation at existing depots isn't going to get any better!

The new depot will be built on a 14 hectare site.  There will be room for 78 long trams and 151 buses, a work shop, cleaning and tanking facilities as well as room for storage, administrative offices and training facilities.

Starting 2025 only electric and hybrid trams will be used in Ghent and other Flemish cities.  The new depot will be fully equipped for electric.  A quarter of the electricity needed for the use of trams and the depot itself will be generated on the site from sustainable sources.  The new depot will open in 2023.  It will be built and maintained by the private sector.

 

The Flemish socialist takes over from Louis Tobback, who served as mayor of Leuven for 24 years.  Mr Ridouani has been a member of the Leuven city cabinet for 12 years.  Leuven is now the only major town in Flanders with a socialist burgomaster after the losses the party incurred in October's poll.  Yet more elections are planned for 26 May and Leuven's brand new mayor has not ruled out supporting his party as a candidate next May despite his intention of staying on as mayor for a full six years.

At the same ceremony the former Belgian asylum secretary Theo Francken too was sworn in as mayor.  Mr Francken's Flemish nationalist party left the federal coalition ahead of Christmas and Mr Francken will now serve as mayor of Lubbeek (Flemish Brabant).