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Local News Summary of July, 18th

  • Hidden weapon leads to discovery of wanted man
  • Klybeckquai established
  • One month after motorway fires in Basel: Emergency lanes not legally indicated

Hidden weapon leads to discovery of wanted man

Swiss border guards who found a gun during a search of a car discovered that a passenger was wanted in Germany for suspected fraud.

The two men, travelling in a car with German number plates, were searched by Swiss guards as they were leaving the country at the motorway border crossing at Rheinfelden. During the search, the police discovered that the passenger was wanted in Germany for suspected fraud. He was arrested and handed over to the German federal police. Only the driver was able to show valid documents. The passenger was not carrying any identification documents on him.

Weapon discovered under the seat

During a search of the car the border guards came across a gas pressure pistol which was already loaded, as well as separate gas pressure units. In a rucksack on the back seat the police found a container with 4.5 calibre ammunition as well as other instruments associated with the accompanied weapon. Charges have been laid under the Swiss Weapons Act against the driver and owner of the hidden weapon, a 27-year-old Pole.

The gun and associated ammunition and the gas pressure equipment were secured by the Aargau cantonal police. The driver had to hand over a four-figure deposit on the spot.

Passenger wanted in Germany

Clarification in conjunction with the German federal police at the scene revealed that the 29-year-old Polish passenger was wanted by three separate public prosecution offices in Germany. Since the man is suspected of committing further cases of fraud in Germany before evidently disappearing, the justice authorities wanted to know the current residence of the passenger. The man was handed over by the Swiss border guards to the German authorities. The German federal police have initiated according charges against the Polish passenger.

Klybeckquai established

A discarded harbour crane from the St. Johann Rheinhafen, which was shut down in 2010, is to be re-constructed on the other side of the river. The groundwork started last week following the withdrawal of certain objections.

A spokesperson for Novartis confirmed to the sda news agency on Monday a story concerning the crane which was reported by the “TagesWoche” newspaper last week.

The pharmaceutical concern is giving the large steel crane, which became obsolete when the St. Johann harbour was closed to make way for the Novartis Campus, as a present to the city.

The massive structure will be delivered by lorry to the bank of the Rhine at the end of August. From there it will be shipped to Klybeckquai where a mobile crane will help with its re-construction. The move “across the stream” however means that the crane will lose its listed status.

The crane had been deconstructed after the closure of the harbour and was stored nearby in France. The government of Basel-Stadt announced last October that the crane would be made accessible to the public after its re-erection. The plan was to use it all year round as a restaurant or bar. 

Crane cabin pub

Whether and how the crane could be used as a bar remains unclear due to the resistance of the neighbourhood to the plan. Any opening could only be possible in 2018.

Plans to build a new city area in the industrial area of Klybeck, including homes for 10,000 new residents, were announced in May. Novartis and BASF have said they plan to use their premises there for industrial purposes either less often or not at all.

The harbour St. Johann, where the crane originates from, had been built between 1906 and 1911 for the delivery of coal to the gas factory. The production of gas from coal and the use of the substances created by the coal gasification is the cradle of the chemical-pharmaceutical industry and therefore the current wealth of the region. The erection of the crane will be celebrated on 18 September.

One month after motorway fires in Basel: Emergency lanes not legally indicated

There have been two fires on the A2 motorway involving vehicles over the last few weeks. In order to ensure that fire fighters, ambulance crews, and police officers can reach the scene of an accident quickly, other drivers nearby must create an emergency lane to allow them to pass. However, many drivers are not conscious of that. Is this down to stupidity? No: In Switzerland, emergency lanes are not regulated by law.

There is a smell of burnt rubber, smoke rolls past, and there are traffic jams: When a vehicle on the motorway is burning, fire fighters must get to it quickly. In the region, two vehicles caught fire on the motorway within the last four weeks (barfi.ch has reported). A burning vehicle or an accident always creates traffic jams – however a quick route to the scene for the emergency services is not guaranteed.

Situation remains unclear

Of course learner drivers know what an emergency lane is. It makes sense. And of course … there are no regulations! Unbelievable! Creating an emergency lane is not regulated by law. The unclear situation and lack of knowledge among car drivers is a big problem.

The federal roads office (ASTRA) however said there are digital signs which alert other drivers to this important message: “In traffic jams, create emergency lanes.” This campaign is a result of a request by emergency units since it is often difficult to reach the scene of an emergency on the motorway quickly.

“It is part of the common sense of drivers that they support police, fire fighters, and ambulance in their work,” said Toprak Yerguz, spokesperson of the Basel police, adding that these are just recommendations, however.

While the amount of centimetres between cars in a public parking space is regulated, emergency lanes which often decide upon the life or death of accident victims are not regulated by law.

Emergency lanes in the EU

When an accident or another event occurs which hampers driving and a traffic jam forms, an emergency lane for the emergency services must be created. Although there is no federal regulation about how this should be created – we insist on mentioning it again – but at least there are recommendations by ASTRA, which state: “Leave open emergency lanes in the middle where a motorway has two lanes, and between the left lane and the second lane from the left on motorways with three or more lanes.” This means that the breakdown lane should always remain available for emergency vehicles.

“In general, then, there is enough space,” Thomas Rohrbach, spokesperson for ASTRA, said. Since a lane is 3m and 75cm wide, and a car has an average width of 2 metres, it means that there is potentially a space of 3m and 50cm in the middle for emergency units. When the breakdown lane is blocked due to an accident, a space of 2 metres before and after the scene must be kept free on the right lane. Then, access for emergency units is guaranteed.

Legal regulation finally in sight?

Drivers in Switzerland do not face financial penalties for not creating an emergency lane, unlike in the neighbouring countries where these drivers face severe punishments.

“Voluntary acting is the best solution,” Thomas Rohrbach said. When a car caught fire on the motorway at Basel two weeks ago only one driver was reported to the penal court. However, this was only because he allegedly slowed down significantly at the scene and took a picture of the burning lorry with his mobile phone. Those who failed to create an emergency lane were not fined by the police. Only when Swiss traffic regulations are revised would it be possible to include access for emergency vehicles, the ASTRA spokesman said. The police can gain access much quicker to pedestrian zones and even areas when there are bollards in the street. But here the police can do whatever they like: But motorways are federal ground and not cantonal. And the federal government takes many more years to deal with important affairs than the EU does.