Brussels is STILL a dirty city, Minister

This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
Brussels is STILL a dirty city, Minister
Credit: Belga

Good Move? Good Living? No, Mr. Maron — Brussels asks for Good riddance from dirtiness! If the Brussels Region is somehow able to find car parking spaces to transform into Bicycle Sheds, then it can as easily find places to turn into underground trash bins.

To resort to half-hearted and nonsensical reforms is an insult to the intelligence of the Brusseleir. The Brussels Region should not leave the Brusseleir to have to live in disarray in a real world Grand Theft Auto against trash bags.

A Rubbish Reform

I wrote a piece last June for the readers of The Brussels Times outlining the reasons we have a garbage and dirtiness issue in Brussels. With it, I outlined three clear possible solutions — the introduction of smart underground bins across the city, the sharing of the competence of the management of the Municipal Solid Waste with the municipalities, and the launching of an app where citizens can report illegal dumpings.

Yet, the reforms that Mr. Alain Maron, the Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Climate Change, Environment, Energy and Participatory Democracy decided to implement as a result have either been half-hearted, discriminatory or without common sense.

Starting May 15th, Maron’s reforms reduces the number of passages for garbage collection from two to one per week, drastically limits the number of hours allowed to take out the trash to two hours per week, and finally introduces a new garbage bag category that forces Brussels residents to sort even more of their trash.

These reforms discriminate against working parents, those that have to rush through an already overly congested city, or those that do not have the luxury of living in large homes with balconies or garages to store their trash in.

Wasted Participatory Democracy

The citizens have to continue to bear the brunt of the inefficiencies and lack of innovative solutions of the Regional Agency for Cleanliness (ARP) that has consistently mismanaged public funds to the brink of bankruptcy.

Yet, what is even more striking than the fact that a public information campaign was launched only two weeks prior to the implementation of the reforms, is that it has been implemented without the voice and needs of the Brusseleirs being taken into account.

For a Minister that has Participatory Democracy as his remit, Mr. Maron has catastrophically wasted the opportunity to partner with citizens to implement the much needed reforms.

Two Hours - A Mission Impossible

Mr. Maron’s reforms, which are a result of the transposition requirements of a European directive, are out of touch with reality. It seems they were implemented in haste to meet a deadline, but with it, is putting in place a reform that pushes the normal Brussels resident to go through the same time crunch.

The reforms limit the number of hours residents may have to take out the trash to two hours, and during the afterwork hours of 18h - 20h. In practice, the Minister is asking that residents forgo an evening with friends or afterwork sports, and in essence of any hobbies or unforeseen changes in plans, so that the Minister’s hastily thought out and rushed reforms may work.

A Reform For and Not Against the People

Mr. Maron and the Brussels Region must immediately revisit their rushed waste collection reforms, and go back to the drawing board to implement serious and lasting reforms that will actually help the Brussels residents and their wellbeing, and not discriminate against them.

I speak to Brussels residents everyday, and hear their grievances and I suggest that Mr. Maron do the same. They actually do not ask for much. They simply ask to have clean streets to walk on, for their homes to be kept clean, and for a city that works with and not against them. Mr. Maron, is that too much to ask?

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