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Local News Summary of September, 10th

  • Chaos in the city centre – Basel is confused
  • Into the Rhine – 250 people take part in annual river cleaning event

Chaos in the city centre – Basel is confused

The new construction site at Steinenberg, which began yesterday, paralysed the entire public transport network in the city centre. Residents and commuters who wanted to use the trams to go from A to B stood at deserted tram stops and expressed their anger.

It was an almost pitiful sight yesterday at the Bahnhof SBB and in the city centre. Unsuspecting travellers were left angry after their attempts to get to the city centre from the train station or make a journey through the city failed miserably. However, many among them (surely attentive barfi.ch readers) accepted the cancellations and diversions since they already knew about it and were not stressed out. Many others lacked understanding. A hopelessly overwhelmed BVB employee tried to ease the chaos but could not cope with the surge of angry customers which descended on him.

A bus in the traffic free zone

During the construction works, the «Barfi-Bus» is circulating between Barfüsserplatz and Schifflände so that people with mobility issues can travel without problems through Grossbasel. But Mr and Mrs Basler need to know about this bus which is circling the city and so the waiting tram users can see it and many of them would realise that there is still some kind of public transport operating. On Barfüsserplatz, the short phase of confusion was soon over.

Empty tram stops, empty displays

«When I was waiting earlier at Marktplatz for the tram, the blank display boards did make me wonder but I thought it was just a system failure,» one passenger told Barfi.ch. «It was only when someone told me that there were no trams circulating and I needed to take the bus that I remembered that the city centre was closed.» Another passenger, an elderly lady, did not demonstrate much understanding for the situation. For her it is difficult to walk longer distances on foot and if she needed to get to the train station for example, it would require taking a major detour.

Bicycle city Basel for real

In general, it is the detour to and from the SBB train station which is being felt the most by public transport users. It now takes much longer to get to a destination in the city centre. The Barfi-Bus solves the problem between Barfüsserplatz and Schifflände, but what about introducing the additional support of bicycle taxis to the train station? With the help of an electric bike it would be easy for people to travel from the theatre over Heuwaage and up to the train station. It would be a quick, comfortable, and also ecological alternative during the necessary but still tiring time during the construction work.

Into the Rhine – 250 people take part in annual river cleaning event

The tenth official Rhine cleaning, called «Ryybutzete», was held yesterday morning on both banks of the river with a punctual 8am start. More than 250 people either got into the water or stayed on the banks to make their contribution towards the Rhine. And as well as the usual rubbish chucked away by irresponsible summer guests who sit on the banks and throw things away like cheeky monkeys, numerous curious and sometimes unexplainable objects were found.

At 8am, the 250 volunteers, among them 100 divers, started to clean the two riverbanks between Dreirosenbrücke and the Birsfelden power station. The IG Ryybutzete, which is made up of several Basel associations including diving clubs and the cantonal fishing organisation of Basel-Stadt together with a team from the Civil Engineering Office, provided the event with materials and a workforce. Despite the rain, many members of the public gathered at the meeting points such as Schifflände - a place where most bicycles are thrown into the Rhine - to watch the Rhine cleaning and especially to examine the many objects which were found.

Extraordinary findings

A large amount of the rubbish was made up of normal waste such as plastic bottles, metal and wood. Larger objects such as ladders and crash barriers were also found as well as the boxes where free newspapers are stored. A total amount of up to ten tonnes of rubbish were removed. It would have been a record except for the Rhine cleaning in 2003 when, thanks to a low water level, 25 tonnes of rubbish were retrieved. Since this event began in 1987, the item found most often is also the most popular vehicle for Baslers: Bicycles. Especially around the Mittlere Brücke, it seems that bicycles like to go for a dive.

During every Rhine cleaning, a number of unusual items emerge. In the early morning, volunteers found a four metre-long steel beam on the Kleinbasel riverbank – but what seems strange is nothing unusual for the cleaning staff. It may have simply come loose from a passing cargo boat. One year, a copper kettle full of Roman coins was found. Knowing that the Romans have left the region a while ago, this was a remarkable discovery. The biggest finding was made in Birsfelden when volunteer divers found a small car – which had probably fallen off a cargo ship.

From the police station to the Historical Museum

Our local police force is also part of the cleaning event. They are in need when potentially stolen goods or guns appear. Locked safes have been found and inspected as well as numerous weapons. Only weapons which can no longer be used may be given to the Historical Museum. The museum will address these special findings in the coming months. In the exhibition «Emerged – Basel's mysterious findings from the water», numerous items will be put on display later this month. These items, including the Roman copper kettle and other genuine sunken treasures, can be seen from 21st September onwards. 

Not every year

The cleaning event in the Rhine takes place according to need every three to five years. The last time it took place was in 2013. Weather and water level influence the work of the divers. This year they have had to deal with a relatively strong current, but this was «normal, according to Swiss conditions». A record amount of findings such as in 2003 cannot be expected, but every object which is removed from the Rhine by numerous volunteers from our beautiful river makes a contribution to our enjoyment of a beautiful walk along the Rhinepromenade of the «most beautiful city in the world».