World’s biggest lock at the port of Antwerp
The construction of a second lock at the port of Antwerp is one of Belgium’s infrastructure mega projects. Improving maritime access to this economic hub will help further develop efficient, multi-modal and sustainable goods transport in Europe.
The port of Antwerp – together with those of Rotterdam and Hamburg – is among the biggest in Europe. It was the first to host the world’s largest container ship, the almost 400 metres-long Edith Maersk, which delivered more than 2 200 containers from Malaysia in early January.
Keeping up with the growing size of vessels is therefore essential. Officially launched in late 2011, the construction of the second lock on Antwerp’s left bank is among Belgium’s most prominent infrastructure projects over the coming years, with some 255 people working each day to build the biggest lock in the world. The lock is due to open in 2016 and will cost around EUR 340m – half of which will be financed by the EIB.
“Even at times when substantial savings must be made, a project such as the second lock is crucial”, says the Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works, Hilde Crevits. “The return on such an investment is reflected in greater maritime, industrial and logistical activity in the Waasland harbour and increasing opportunities for employment locally”, she adds. For Hilde Crevits the construction of the Deurganck dock lock is necessary to improve maritime access and to be able to cater for future demand. The new lock will help to further develop efficient, multimodal and sustainable goods transport, which will benefit not only the port of Antwerp and Flanders but also Belgium and Europe.
A major transport hub in Europe
“With a second lock the Antwerp Port Authority is responding to the increase in the scale of shipping traffic in order to maintain our position as the number two in Europe,” Marc Van Peel, Antwerp city council alderman and chairman of the port underlines.
The port is also a major hub in Europe’s transport network, the backbone of the internal market. Around 90% of the EU’s trade with third countries passes through the ports of Europe, with some 3.2 billion tonnes of freight being loaded and unloaded annually. The Asia-Europe route remains the world’s busiest trade lane. Seaports therefore play a vital part in ensuring the competitiveness of both Europe’s internal and external trade, and provide essential links to its regions. EU ports generate more than half a million jobs either directly or indirectly, and they drive the dynamism and development of the economy.
The European Commission puts particular emphasis on European seaports as gateways to the European markets and the maritime sector is an important part of the EIB’s support for the so-called trans- European transport network (TEN-T). Since 1993, when the priority projects were identified, the EIB has supported the TEN-T with more than EUR 100bn.
Bringing about the trans-European network for transport and developing sustainable modes of transport is one of the objectives of the EIB.
Over the past five years the EIB has provided more than EUR 5bn for infrastructure in the maritime transport and inland waterways sector and for a significant number of port projects – in Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Helsinki and Marseille, as well as in Belgium for the new locks of Ivoz- Ramez and Lanhaye and for the new lock now under construction on Antwerp’s left bank.