King Albert opens Deurganck Dock in Antwerp

6th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

6 July 2005, BRUSSELS — Belgium's King Albert II officially opened on Wednesday the new Deurganck Dock in the port of Antwerp.

6 July 2005

BRUSSELS — Belgium's King Albert II officially opened on Wednesday the new Deurganck Dock in the port of Antwerp.

Described as essential to the future of Antwerp, the dock will boost the port's container capacity by a third. Once it is fully operational, the dock will double Antwerp's current capacity.

The dock is 2.5km wide and 450m wide and has a total docking length of 5km. At full capacity, Deurganck will handle between 6 and 7.5 million containers per year, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported.

The total cost of the dock is estimated at EUR 600 million, funded by the Flemish government and Antwerp port authority.

The Schelde River — which serves as the port's access waterway — will need to be deepened for the port to become fully operational.

Antwerp Harbour Alderman Leo Delwaide said Belgium was co-operating with "our Dutch friends" on the Schelde project. The aim is to start the project in 2007.

Delwaide also said Antwerp is involved in healthy competition with the port of Rotterdam, which handles eight million containers per year.

"Competition keeps us alert," he said, adding that Rotterdam might soon overtake Antwerp again with the construction of its new dock, the Tweede Maasvlakte.

Flemish Prime Minister Yves Leterme said the opening of the Antwerp dock was an historic day. Other speeches on Wednesday pointed out the importance of the dock to the Antwerp port and the Flemish economy.

Plans for a new dock date back to 1995. In 1998, the Flemish government revealed it would build the new port facility near the village of Doel. It decided to relocate residents based on fears their standard of living would become too poor.

Residents joined environmentalists to stage countless legal battles against the new dock. But this only served to slow construction down, Flemish broadcaster VRT reported.

Port chief Eddy Bruyninckx said on Wednesday the new dock will not be at full capacity until 2011 when a new motorway tunnel is built to connect with the Antwerp ring road.

Antwerp will also construct a second rail bridge or tunnel to serve the new dock, with the Flemish government currently leaning towards the latter option.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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