Antwerp sees 2018 as 6th consecutive record cargo year in all segments

THE Port of Antwerp expects 2018 to be a record year for the sixth time in a row, with growth in all cargo segments.

Annual container volume is indicated to be up 5.5 per cent year on year up 11 million TEU, representing a 5.8 per cent increase to 130 million tonnes.

Liquid and solid bulk for their part are up by respectively 4.5 per cent (to 76.5 million tonnes) and five per cent (to 12.8 million tonnes), while breakbulk has experienced growth of 1.8 per cent (to 15.6 million tonnes).

"This confirms the port's attraction and further establishes its position as a world-class player that is also home to the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe," said the port authority.

Said port authority CEO Jacques Vandermeiren: "With these excellent growth figures and the recent surge of investment in 2018, the port has once more confirmed its role as the main engine of the Belgian economy."

For freight transport the aim is to achieve a significant modal shift by 2030, reducing the proportion of freight that travels by road from 55 per cent to 43 per cent.

The parallel aim is to double the proportion of rail transport, bringing it to 15 per cent. Railport - a joint initiative by Antwerp Port Authority, the Left Bank Development Corporation and the industry associations essenscia Vlaanderen and Voka Alfaport - assumed responsibility for this in 2018.

The proportion of freight carried by barge is set to increase from the already high level of 38 per cent to 42 per cent. Earlier this year the port community signed a Container Barge Action Plan based on three main foundations, namely collaborative scheduling of barge movements, consolidation of container volumes and digitisation.

To remain accessible for the 60,000 employees in the port, the Port Authority is working on various schemes aimed at workers leaving their cars behind and using the Water Bus and Bike Bus.

'DeWaterbus' plies on the Scheldt as an alternative means of transport for those travelling to Antwerp from Hemiksem and Kruibeke. Some 400.000 have used DeWaterbus since it started in July 2017.