The Brussels majority refuses the Brussels N-VA’s request for an external audit of Vivaqua

18 January 2024

Due to the inadequate and overdue maintenance of the Brussels sewers, there is even the risk of sinkholes developing. Yet the Brussels government and, in particular, the minister with competence for the matter, Minister Maron, refuses any audit or investigation. The Brussels N-VA submitted a resolution for this, but it was voted down by the majority this week. “In the meantime, the situation is going from bad to worse,” says Brussels N-VA group chair Cieltje Van Achter.

The requests to appoint a government commissioner to Vivaqua’s board of directors as soon as possible and the call for a thorough rationalisation of the Brussels water sector were also rejected. The majority refers to a study on the rationalisation of the water sector that was already announced in 2016 (!), but has still not been delivered to date. So, we’re waiting for Godot...

Disastrous financial situation

According to the Brussels N-VA group chair Cieltje Van Achter, the majority simply does not want to face the painful reality. “When I question Minister Maron about Vivaqua, he invariably answers that he does not have competence for the matter and is not responsible. However, our region guarantees Vivaqua’s debts and the region therefore runs a real risk given Vivaqua’s disastrous financial situation.” Vivaqua has a debt of more than EUR 1 billion, with an annual turnover of approximately EUR 300 million. The interest alone will increase from EUR 21 million in 2022 to EUR 33 million in 2024!

Too little, too late

The proposals announced by Vivaqua to reduce the huge debt can be summarised as “too little, too late”. “The N-VA has been denouncing the deplorable situation at Vivaqua ever since 2017, and specifically, the fact that the funds must be spent much more efficiently and economically. I note that since then, the situation under the current management has gone from bad to worse today. It is high time for the Brussels government to take its responsibility and take this file to heart. Unfortunately, the Brussels government is only thinking about the upcoming elections, and we must therefore expect nothing more,” Van Achter observes.

Barely 14 kilometres of sewer renovated

However, Vivaqua faces huge challenges, such as the large-scale renovation of the Brussels sewage network. Concerning the latter, the renewal rates of the sewage network expected for 2023 are far below the objectives set in advance. In 2023, barely 14 kilometres of sewers were renovated, while 500 kilometres are in urgent need of renovation. Consequently, we note that sinkholes are increasingly appearing in the Brussels streetscape, which endangers the safety of Brussels residents.

How valuable did you find this article?

Enter your personal score here
The average score is