Story By: Koen Berghuis, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Picture Credit: CEN
One of the world’s largest cemeteries located in a German city where over 1.5 million people are buried has caused outrage with plans to introduce a toll for car drivers.
The plans were unveiled by Ohlsdorf Cemetery in then German city of Hamburg which has 966 acres of grounds and over 280,000 graves, making it the fourth largest graveyard in the world.
According to local media, cemetery bosses plan to construct barriers at roads in and out and charge visitors coming by car an entry fee to visit the grounds to stop people using it as a shortcut without actually stopping to make a visit.
Spokesman of Hamburg Cemeteries Lutz Rehkopf said: “The purpose behind the idea is to limit the substantial through traffic.
According to cemetery bosses, a lot of vehicles speed through the grounds and annoy visitors.
The system would be similar to a car park, but the rates will lower the longer a visitor stays.
Making use of cemetery roads for half an hour or less will reportedly cost drivers 3 EUR (2.6 GBP).
Those who enter the grounds and leave after several hours will only be charged 0.50 EUR (0.44 GBP).
According to local media, the management had expected families of the deceased to welcome the move to make their loved ones final rest more peaceful with less noisy traffic, but instead residents are outraged by the idea as it means they will now need to pay to visit their loved ones.
Given the vast size of the cemetery, most visitors reportedly arrive by car to park close to the grave they want to visit.
Jurgen Wulf, 67, said that he has visited the cemetery almost every day since 2013 when his wife passed away.
However, he agreed that the traffic situation is a problem, saying that “50 percent of cars drive through here at speeds of 50 kph instead of 30.”
Wulf rejected plans for an entry charge as it would end up costing him a lot of money for his quick daily visits to his wife’s grave.
He said: “I leave after 20 minutes, should I pay 3 EUR every day?”
Christel Riedel, 78, said: “We have already paid almost 4,000 EUR (3,515 GBP) for my husband’s grave. The administration wants us to take care of them, but then they collect for entry. That is quite impudent.”
Marco Saal, 45, said: “I think the barriers are good, after all these are not public roads, but I consider the fees excessive.”
It is not yet known when Hamburg Cemeteries plans to construct and implement the toll system.