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Port of Antwerp confirms supply chain is still working

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Dry Bulk,

So far, there has not been any drop in volume of shipping, except for the expected fall in the number of arrivals from China. Various new members have joined the taskforce and several points for attention were defined. In particular, the subject of ‘Green Lanes’ was put forward in order to further guarantee efficient supplies for the region.

The Port of Antwerp COVID-19 Taskforce recently held its second meeting. It was set up to monitor the day-to-day operation of the port, with a view to taking additional measures where necessary. In addition to the original participants, Infrabel (rail track operator) and the Federal Agency for Safety of the Food Chain have now joined the taskforce.

Port platform still working

At the moment, the port platform remains operational and there are no insurmountable problems. In consultation with the agency for Maritime Services & Coast (MDK), a second location has been pressed into service temporarily for the Antwerp Coordination Centre (ACC), which is responsible for shipping traffic management. In this way, the personnel can be spread over the two locations and the ACC kept 100% operational.

Points for attention

The taskforce also defined various other points for attention, including:

  • Due to declining production and consumption in many industries, there has been a slowdown in outward movements of goods and raw materials, leading to a pile-up. This has resulted in a shortage of warehouse capacity, tank storage and space for storing trucks, both in the port and in the hinterland. Alternatives are being sought to deal with this shortage.
  • All EU internal borders have been closed to movements of persons. Exceptions are being made for personnel in essential industries, and ‘green lanes’ are being set up as fast lanes for trucks so that they can cross the border in a maximum of 15 mins. However, in the past few days there have still been long queues at border crossings in Europe. The taskforce will take this matter up with the relevant authorities.

The existing measures remain in force:

  • Basic preventive hygiene measures.
  • Sufficient cleaning materials made available for machines.
  • Documents exchanged digitally as much as possible, so as to keep human contact to a minimum.
  • Ship’s crews and personnel on the quayside communicate mainly at a distance (by radio and telephone).
  • Rules of social distancing applied as much as possible, in particular by keeping a distance of 1.5 m between people.

Economic impact

So far, there has not been any significant drop in the volume of shipping. In the meantime, the demand for health foodstuffs and long-life foodstuffs continues to grow.

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Dry bulk shipping market