The rapidly growing volumes and the ever larger sizes of seagoing ships calling at the port in combination with labour shortages have led to peak loads on the terminals, with long waiting times for container barges as a result.
Since barge traffic is important for the port community as a whole, for sustainable transport of freight to and from the hinterland, serious efforts have been put into drawing up an action plan in the past few months aimed at making structural improvements in the short term.
At the beginning of this week the action plan received the backing of the shipping terminals involved, together with the barge operators, shipping lines, shippers, forwarders, the Flemish government, Vlaamse Waterweg (waterway operator), Alfaport-Voka (Chamber of Commerce) and Antwerp Port Authority.
On 6 July this year the Port Authority organised a Container Barge Round Table meeting with all partners in the supply chain to discuss the problem of delays in container barge handling. A declaration of intent was signed by DPW, MPET, PSA, ICBO, ASV, Alfaport-Voka, MOW, Vlaamse Waterweg, VEA, OTM and the Port Authority, aimed at making structural improvements to container barge handling.
Dedicated workshops were then held in September in order to outline the challenges involved in the process of making structural and incremental improvements in handling. Then in October particular topics and action plans were discussed in greater detail with the parties involved. Finally, on 6 November the action plan was approved by the CEOs concerned and the necessary commitments were made.