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Brussels-North wants action plan for crime and rubbish

16:19 16/09/2023

While an action plan to tackle rubbish and crime at Brussels-Midi station is in the works, residents near Brussels-North say that the station also deserves attention.

The area around Brussels-North is the site of dozens of illegal dumping spots, RTBF reports, and litter is strewn about the pavements along with rubbish bags taken to the curb outside of collection times.

There are also empty cylinders of nitrous oxide from people using the drug recreationally, and crime has long been a problem in the area around the station.

But while these same issues will be tackled in an action plan for Brussels-Midi, residents and shopkeepers around Brussels-North feel left out.

“It's a shame that Brussels-North has not been taken into account in this plan, as we are only 5km from Brussels-South, and the two stations have a lot in common,” said Mohamed El Hajaiji, president of the Rue de Brabant traders' association.

“It's a mistake to think that by cleaning up Brussels-Midi everything that happens there will disappear. For me, Brussels-North and Brussels-Midi are two sides of the same coin.”

Locals told RTBF that the northern district should also be the focus of the attention of the federal and Brussels authorities, following the example of the action plan announced last week for Brussels-Midi.

“In terms of passenger numbers, Brussels North is the country's number one station,” El Hajaiji said.

"I think the difference is who’s banging their fist on the table. In the case of Brussels-Midi, it was the chief executive of SNCB.

"So when she banged her fist on the table, her minister reacted and the whole government followed suit.

"The CEO works at Brussels-Midi. If she worked at Brussels-North, that would probably have been the one that was ‘cleaned up’.”

Although Brussels-North is busier than Midi, it is not the same type of passenger, according to El Hajaiji.

“At Brussels-Midi, we see a lot of well-off travellers: MEPs who arrive on Sundays, heads of state, tourists. And indeed, when they leave the station, it needs to be a little more welcoming,” El Hajaiji said.

In the eyes of some residents, the recent police operations at Brussels-Midi have merely shifted the problems to Brussels-North, but police disagree.

“For the moment, we're not seeing any shift, neither in our crime figures nor in the findings of police officers on the ground,” a spokesperson said.

Written by Helen Lyons