Last year, inland shipping on the Flemish waterways transported a total of 71.9 million tonnes, an increase by 4.23%. Container transport rose above the 1 million TEU mark for the first time. The Albert Canal is the most important transport axis (source: Flows.be)
Commenting on what this means for the terminals handling these barges, Martine Hiel, Managing Director of Hutchison Ports Belgium, said: "Hutchison Ports Belgium offers its customers a reliable barge connection to Rotterdam and Antwerp. This allows our customers to call for their full or empty containers with great flexibility. A combination of import and export is possible, as we are the official depot for all the major deep-sea shipping companies. Speed and efficiency are our trump cards here. On average, a driver spends 20 minutes at the terminal. We want to maintain this with increasing growth. From March 2022, there will be a new gate with a Do-It-Yourself-Desk for the drivers."
Hutchison Ports Belgium is part of the inland terminal network of European Gateway Services (EGS). EGS plays an important role in container transport by barge, not only in Belgium but also in the further European hinterland of the seaports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. EGS offers around 10 sailings a week from Rotterdam to Hutchison Ports Belgium in Willebroek and the sea port in Antwerp.
Paul Zoeter, General Manager of EGS, says of the increase: "We have been able to meet the increasing demand for container transport with larger ships in our permanent fleet and the deployment of additional ships within our network during seasonal peaks. In addition, the reliability of the scheduled services has been improved by making maximum use of fixed windows at the various terminals in the seaports of Antwerp and Rotterdam." So, on the one hand, a bit of flexibility, on the other, the certainty of timely handling. EGS, together with the barge operators, is always looking to improve processes and explore with customers the possibilities of their container transport.