Antwerp awarded Port of Year
The port of Antwerp received a highly commendable accolade on Monday night when it was awarded Port of the Year by the organisation ICSW International Committee of Seafarers’ Welfare, the organisation of seamen throughout the world. It seems the Antwerp harbour, and more particularly the Port Authority, is an excellent host. If one thinks of the harbour, images of massive ocean-going ships, enormous petrochemical sites and rows upon rows of containers come to mind. But above all, the harbour is a place where many thousands of people spend their days at work, which adds a dimension of responsibility to ensure they enjoy a decent working environment. During the past few years it was obvious that the Port Authority made a huge effort to improve the general image of the harbour to ensure a more modern landscape that would blend in with the city and its people. One such example is its partnership with the MAS museum and its role as chief sponsor of the cultural temple De Singel, the philharmonic orchestra deFilharmonie and the basketball club Port of Antwerp Giants. Another example is its active participation in urban renewal, with the landmark design for the new Port House by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. Since 2001 the harbour has also been involved in natural development and sustainability, with an extensive cycle network planned to make the harbour area even more accessible for cyclists from the city. The prevalence of harbour mission churches also contribute to keeping the port community active. It therefore comes as no surprise that the maritime press bestowed port alderman Marc Van Peel CD&V with the Maritime Award of the Year last week. This honour also went to the director-general of the Port Authority, Eddy Bruyninckx, on an earlier occasion. Van Peel not only managed to position the harbour as a global, 21st century player during his ten year tenure, but also launched a project to facilitate a closer link with the city. He hopes to be around for another six years to take “his” harbour even further after the municipal elections next year. Last week his chances grew significantly after his party CD&V and the socialist party of mayor Patrick Janssens’ decided to form a joint electoral list.