Fewer passage places for travellers

The situation regarding stand and transit spaces for travellers in Switzerland is unsatisfactory: According to the latest stand report to be published shortly by the “Future for Swiss Travellers” Foundation and already available to the NZZ, there are 15 stands in Switzerland (autumn 2015) – only one more than when the last report was published in 2010. This means that the number of stands has only increased by 4 in the last 15 years (from 11 to 15). In view of the long period of time, the foundation speaks of a “standstill”.

The development in the number of transit places is “clearly more alarming” and continues to show a negative trend. The number of transit places for Swiss travellers designated by the municipalities has decreased over the last 15 years from 46 to 31, i.e. by around one third. Since 2010, 7 mostly small transit places have been cancelled, during which 3 have been newly created or newly recorded on the basis of the surveys. Find out more in defensivedrivingtx.com for more about the data collected and the information about driving.

There are no stands or passageways in the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Glarus, Jura, Neuenburg, Obwalden, Schaffhausen, Ticino, Uri, Vaud and Valais.

Here an icy wind is blowing towards the travellers, especially those from abroad. Only last weekend the community of Meinisberg celebrated in protest against the planned transit site (in the broadest sense a transit site) for Roma. Christoph Neuhaus (svp.), a member of the Bernese government, would like to set up such a centre in the Bernese Seeland. In addition, further passage places are planned for local travellers in Muri, Erlach and Herzogenbuchsee. These are undisputed by far. The planned transit site, on the other hand, would cost a lot of money: almost 10 million francs, while the transit sites could be realised for 2.5 million francs. The Bernese parliament decides on the loan in the autumn session.

Money is not the main argument, however, on the basis of which the transit area is to be prevented. Raphael Steiner, who organised the so-called Solidarity Festival in the Canton of Berne together with his Committee of Citizens, is quoted by the “Bund” as saying: “Foreign travellers do not observe basic rules”.

Neuhaus, who has also presided over the Future for Swiss Travellers Foundation founded in 1997, adds opposite the NZZ: “It’s best to see travellers driving”. But they could only drive if they had seats. 4500 properties – owned by the federal government, cantons and municipalities – had been inspected before they were found in Meinisberg.

Neuhaus finds it “understandable” that his plans are now being mobilized against. He says: The inappropriate behaviour of individual foreign groups of drivers is throwing clubs between his legs. By the end of May 2016, 150 police reports had been received in the Bernese Seeland. A police operation costs around 75,000 francs. As a result, tax money is “blown away” in the same way. The municipal director does not only want to manage the problem, he wants to solve it. Hands have been discarded for decades. “Something must be done now.”

Where do these often negative feelings towards travellers come from?  According to the Stand Report 2015, published by the Future for Swiss Travellers Foundation, the term “Travellers” refers to the “travelling lifestyle of the Jeni, Sinti and Roma”. The majority of Swiss travellers are Jeni. With their sedentary or travelling way of life, a constituent element of their self-image, they are also at home in Germany and Austria. The Roma include various population groups of Indian origin and language. They live as the largest minority in Europe, mostly sedentary, rarely driving. The Sinti and Manouche (in French-speaking Switzerland) do not see themselves as Roma. Some of them have mixed with the Jeni.


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