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Port of Antwerp taskforce confirms it is 100% operational

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Dry Bulk,

The Port of Antwerp COVID-19 taskforce has recently held its first meeting, attended by key players in the organisation of the port. They confirmed that keeping the port operational is a shared priority and expressed their full commitment to the operation of the port and thus to keeping the country supplied. At the meeting, a port monitor presented an overview of the situation.

The taskforce is multidisciplinary and cross-border. The Dutch Common Nautical Management is also represented because it controls access via the Scheldt. The various players in the overall organisation of the port also participate, so as to obtain a full picture of port operations.

Port platform is operational

At the moment, the port platform is operational and there are no insurmountable problems. Handling on the terminals is going ahead normally, there is sufficient manpower available to deal with cargo and drivers are arriving and departing without too much delay. On the other hand, the taskforce defined several points for attention which are being monitored. These include:

  • The different approaches of Belgium and the Netherlands. Port of Antwerp is served by Flemish and Dutch pilots. The Dutch position starts from a controlled contamination, while the Flemish standard is much stricter. Maritime Services and Coast is working on an approach in consultation with the Netherlands in which the two types of measures are not contradictory.
  • Manpower: at the moment, everything is under control. The availability and allocation of employees is essential for correct functioning of all port services. In addition, fall-back scenarios are being drawn up to assure continuity of service.

The existing measures were reconfirmed, namely:

  • Basic preventive hygiene measures.
  • Providing sufficient cleaning aids in machines.
  • Documents are to be exchanged digitally wherever possible, so as to limit human contact to the minimum.
  • Ships’ crews and personally on the quay will mainly communicate at a distance (by radio or telephone).
  • The rules of social distancing are to be observed as much as possible, in particular by keeping a distance of 1.5 m between people.

For the rest, it was decided that no new measures need to be taken.

Economic impact

At the moment, the Port of Antwerp has not seen any decline in the freight volume. However, it is expected that fewer ships will call at the port in the coming days and weeks because of the corona outbreak. The logistics chain is functioning normally and is dealing well with peaks in market demand. It is necessary to emphasise the importance of keeping Europe’s borders open for all forms of freight transport. Port of Antwerp will monitor the situation continuously, and will continue to react to the demands of logistics operators and temrinals.

The Port of Antwerp COVID-19 taskforce will meet weekly. This frequency will be increased should it become necessary.

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