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Stib calls for political action to counter rise in drug use on public transport

Police control on Brussels public transport network
11:44 27/11/2022

Brussels’ public transport service Stib has called on the government to help tackle the rise in drug use in metro stations and other parts of the network, reports Bruzz.

Although it does not have exact figures, Stib has the impression that drug use is increasing in metros and trams, said spokesperson An Van hamme. "We work together with various non-profit organisations that have the expertise to address users and guide them to the right reception options, but this phenomenon is not easy to treat."

That’s why it’s asking the Brussels government to step in. "We are also victims in this story. As a society, we try to organise public transport in the safest and most comfortable way possible. That's why solutions are needed," she added.

At the moment, Stib calls the police when there’s a drug incident. "Agents can escort the people in question to the exit, but nothing prevents users from returning."

Minister calls for new strategy

Brussels mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) confirmed that she was planning a meeting soon between the various parties involved. "The situation at the moment is not acceptable because travellers do not feel safe. We need to find solutions that are humane, but also strong, to ensure that we turn the situation around."

She aims to convene a taskforce that would include both social services and security forces so that a new strategy could be drawn up.

But it could take time to set up, she said. "This requires a commitment from many partners. First we have to agree on the challenges, then we can work out the solutions."

Brussels drug centre Transit agrees a new strategy is needed. “We know that if the police hold an action in a certain metro station, people move to another station," spokesperson Bruno Valkeneers said on Bruzz radio.

Non-profit Transit had an important role to play but there was a need for more shelters, he added. "We already have a residence centre, we can welcome people there. But there is more demand than supply. We need to create more supply."

Photo: Police control on Stib network © Belga/Thierry Roge

Written by The Bulletin