Maintenance and repair workers avoid jobs in Ghent and Antwerp due to low emission zones
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    Maintenance and repair workers avoid jobs in Ghent and Antwerp due to low emission zones

    An increasing number of plumbers, electricians and other maintenance and repair workers no longer want to go to the cities for a job. Credit: Belga

    An increasing number of plumbers, electricians and other maintenance and repair workers no longer want to go to the cities of Antwerp and Ghent for a job.

    “It has become too complex, too timeconsuming and too expensive to get to a job in the inner cities,” said Nelectra, the federation for the electrical sector, and the Flemish Construction Confederation.

    The city of Ghent will introduce its low emission zone from 1 January 2020, meaning polluting cars will no longer be allowed to enter the inner city ring road. The measures for the existing low emission zone in Antwerp will also be tightened, banning more vehicles from entering the centre.

    “The low-emission zones mean that your vehicle fleet has to meet the standards,” said Marc Dillen, the Director-General of the Flemish Construction Federation, reports Het Nieuwsblad. “Then there are also traffic congestions and parking problems, which can sometimes make working, or even getting to the site, very difficult and complicated. A lot of workers just leave the inner cities be and focus on customers in the broad periphery,” he added.

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    “Many colleagues are not looking forward to adapting their vehicles, the paperwork to be allowed to enter Ghent’s car-free zone, and the parking problems,” Pieter Feys, the chairman of Nelectra East Flanders, told Het Nieuwsblad. “Additionally, there is more than enough work for electricians outside the centre of Ghent. It’s only logical that they ignore the city centre. In the long run, you will have to charge so much for the maintenance of, for example, a boiler that no one will hire you anymore,” he added.

    The city council of Ghent and Antwerp recognise that many people, including maintenance and repair workers, will have to adapt. “But you cannot start exempting groups of various professions from the rules. In the long run, everyone will want an exemption,” said Tom Meeuws, Antwerp Alderman for Environment, reports De Standaard.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times