Belgian Truckers Up the Ante Too Far

Filling stations and supermarkets were running out of supplies as the Belgian truck toll protest spread from Wallonia for the first time – but then the interior minister intervened.

Also, gridlock in Gibraltar as Spain and Argentina sound off on UK ‘colonies’. Cross-border truck platoons arrive safe and sound in Rotterdam, as the first 60t Ecocombi truck takes to the road in Spain.

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BELGIAN TRUCKERS UP THE ANTE TOO FAR

Protest strays beyond southern Belgium for the first time then government intervenes.

brussels trucks

Brussels E40 at Ternat this morning. Photo Verkeerscentrum.be

Belgian truckers protesting against the new toll system considerably upped the ante this morning with a blockade of the major E40 both ways just to the west of Brussels.

It’s the first time the demonstrations have strayed out of Wallonia, southern Belgium.

However, the blockade lasted for less than an hour. Whether police intervened successfully, or it was a just shot across the bows from protestors, remains to be seen.

Flemish transport minister Ben Weyts has called on the federal interior minister Jan Jambon to stop similar blockades happening again in Flanders.

Update 16:00Jan Jambon has called the blockades unacceptable and called on truckers to lift them. If not, he says police will clear them.

The Walloon government has also made a court application to remove the road blocks but no ruling has been made yet.

Update 18:00: police have removed some blocks from E42 at Tournai and E411 at Arlon according to TLV union official Freija Fonteyn, but some may still be in place tomorrow.

Update 20:00: federal police spokesman  @PDWaele tweets to say all blockades have ben lifted.

Meanwhile, the E42 border crossing near Lille remains closed and there are several ‘filter dams’ – which allow car traffic past – on the E411 between Brussels and Luxembourg.

There are also around twenty five other protests on main roads around Wallonia, see interactive map.

Reports yesterday said the first fines were now being issued though Dutch transport minister Melanie Schultz has received assurances the authorities will be lenient.

Apparently only those without an OBU On-Board Unit will be targeted with the €1000 penalty, initially.

However, drivers who fail to pay within three hours are liable for another €1000 fine reports Flanders Today.

Reports earlier today said filling stations are in danger of running out of fuel because the on-going blockades, now three days old, include storage and distribution centres (see this map – up to fifty garages are running/low closed, especially between Liege and Charleroi).

The same could also start to happen at supermarkets. Catch up with previous events here.

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scania platoon

After journeys of nearly 2000km in some cases, the six ‘truck platoons’ from around the Continent arrived safe and sound in Rotterdam this afternoon. Truck platooning is two or three trucks connected by wifi in a column, with the first determining speed and route. It is said to be safer and more efficient than single vehicles, saving 10% of fuel and cutting CO2 emissions. Aside from more testing, the next step is to harmonise European rules and regulations – some German states refused to allow the vehicles to pass – and ensure market demand. Unilever and some major Dutch supermarkets have expressed an interest. Platooning will be on the agenda at the Informal EU Transport Council on 14-15 April in Amsterdam. Ten-vehicle platoons are due to take to UK roads though last night AA President Edmund King took to twitter to express some misgivings. Meanwhile, the first ‘mega-camion’ Ecocombi made the first trip in Spain on Monday. The 25.25m, 60t Scania drove 35km to the SEAT factory near Barcelona. Photo EUTruckPlatooning.com

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roundup: GIBRALTAR. Drivers waited up to two hours yesterday evening to cross into Spain according to @GibraltarBorder. Eyewitness reports say Spanish border guards searched every car during peak time says GBC News causing ‘gridlock’. Coincidentally, or not, Spain’s hawkish Foreign Minister Jose Margallo was in Argentina where a joint call was issued for the UK to start talks to end ‘the colonial situations of Gibraltar and the Falklands’ according to a separate report on GBC News. Margallo was blamed recently for a resurgence of frontier queues in Gibraltar after his promise to close the border if the UK voted to leave the EU in the June referendum.

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