Against the arrival of the Chinese giant Alibaba, mobilization in Liège, Belgium

Bierset (Belgium), report

In Wallonia, opposition to the extension of Liège airport and the arrival of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is not weakening. Monday, February 7, in a sunny cold, a hundred activists from Extinction Rebellion and Stop Alibaba decided to carry out a spectacular action. Between 4 and 5 o’clock in the morning, equipped with banners and other material necessary for the action, large sweaters, full white coats and some food, women and men managed to enter, without clash, within the concrete plant of the constructor Eloy and to paralyze production for a day.

Why this plant ? Located in Bierset, at the foot of Liège airport, it prepares some of the materials that should be used to pour hundreds of thousands of square meters of slabs for warehouses that are multiplying around », explains Amande, activist in the collective Stop Alibaba & co. The company, however, claims not to have delivered a single cubic meter of concrete as part of the Alibaba project.

Around 7 a.m., the first light of day highlights the message conveyed by this action. Installed on one of the infrastructures by rope access technicians, a large yellow banner declares Liège Airport: the extension, left concrete ». Please note that this action is not only aimed at Alibaba. Today we oppose any type of expansion »says an activist. This airport is expanding at quite a phenomenal ratecomplete Almond. They have redone a road that bypasses the entire site, they have built a new kerosene tank, they plan to increase the size of their pipeline, they want to lengthen an airport runway, etc. And it will continue like this if no limits are set. »

Purely anticlimatic decisions »

In this struggle, a disturbing paradox. On the one hand, an impact study for the renewal of the airport’s operating permit for 2023 is still in progress. It is therefore difficult to measure the real impacts of the increased activity induced by all these projects: on the environment, noise, the local economy, employment, etc. However, last November, Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba, officially went live with its hub European at Liège airport. In addition, the municipality and the region grant building permits for transport companies on a case-by-case basis.

It’s still incredible to embark on projects whose impacts we do not know », criticizes another activist. However, Alibaba’s promises are known: creation of 550 to 900 direct jobs and between 1,800 and 2,400 indirect jobs by 2024, as explained by a major survey by the Belgian media. imagine tomorrow the world. But what about the quality of work and the destruction of jobs? ? Whereas Mounir Mahjoubi’s analysis note [ex-secrétaire d’État français au numérique] of 2019 shows that for every job created in e-commerce, two disappear »says a press release from Stop Alibaba.

A hundred activists blocked the concrete plant near Liège airport. © Stop Alibaba & co

What we ask today is not so hard to hearAlmond continues. We call for an immediate moratorium on all extension projects, the time to carry out a real global impact study and to organize an authentic democratic debate. » In terms of the environment and the well-being of the inhabitants, the bill seems heavy: increase in landings and take-offs, night and day flights, and increase in truck traffic to transport all these packages to consumers.

These are purely anticlimatic decisionsconcludes Almond. These are huge public investments, we are at 1.25 billion euros. 350 hectares will be destroyed, covered with concrete, roads, infrastructure… Not to mention the emissions of CO2 which will jump with the assumed objective of increasing air traffic. »

Surrounded by a few police vans, the activists left the scene around 4 p.m., as planned, without any confrontation having taken place. We’re pretty happy when it’s like thatexplains an activist. It’s great to be together to fight for these climate, social and economic issues that are close to our hearts. »

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