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Big clean-up operation on Avenue de la Toison d'Or
Overflowing rubbish bags, non or badly-sorted waste, illegal fly-tipping, urine on cafe terraces, even rats and mice - this is the reality of the Avenue de la Toison d’Or.
The depressing situation was made only too evident after a major clean-up operation earlier this week organised by the Brussels organisation responsible for keeping the city clean – Bruxelles Propreté.
This exercise, to be repeated next month, was also carried out to raise awareness that the new plan to pedestrianise the street must be managed so that rubbish can be collected effectively.
“The changes must take account of our job and thought out in terms of public cleanliness,” Bruxelles Propreté said.
Waste collectors, accompanied by Brussels-Ixelles zone police officers and sanctioning officers from Ixelles were out in force to try and wipe out the filth of the area.
“We have far too much work,” said one Bruxelles-Propreté employee. "The bags are filled to the brim. The shopworkers put the bags wherever they feel like, we must all clear things up. Brussels is becoming very dirty, it’s not like it was."
The organisation’s spokesperson Adel Lassouli agreed that te situation of chronic dirtiness has reigned for several weeks.
“We have put many resources into this. Sweepers have been operated as well as a high-pressure cleaner," he said. "The drains have been unblocked and the bags and illegal waste picked up. We cannot just accept this saying it is because it is a very busy place at the height of the tourist season.”
Some shopkeepers sort their waste very badly and forget to put the emptied containers back into their building.
“The rubbish often ends up right in the middle of the street, getting in the pedestrians’ way and ending up by being opened by the homeless, resulting in smells and filth," Lassouli added.
Chris Vandenhaute, from the Brussels-Ixelles police zone, is one of the officers employed to make the homeless, who sometimes also use the terraces as toilets, aware of the importance to keep the area clean.
He said that as they collect clothes and food on top of benches, this attracts rats and mice. "But we have a code of conduct. We do not want the homeless to lose their personal affairs and that they are thrown away," he said.
In the clean-up drive, Ixelles sanctioning officers also went to the shops and restaurants lining the Toison d’Or to make them aware of the problem, with punishments if necessary.
Here another administrative obstacle arises that does not help the cleaning challenge. While the restaurant terraces are technically in Brussels-City, the cafes and shops are in Ixelles.
Alderman Yannick Piquet, present on the day, summed up: “Indeed these are recurring problems. We are under the impression that this stretch of road is never clean, despite the hard work of Bruxelles-Propreté and our services.
"The homelessness problem is increasingly significant added to the increase of people to the area."