Deurganck dock to operate 24 hours a day

Summary

Antwerp’s busiest dock will operate round the clock during the week, which the port hopes will ease container traffic on the roads during peak hours

Expert disagrees

The Deurganck dock in the port of Antwerp will carry out 24-hour operations from next month, in an effort to ease the pressure of freight traffic on the city’s ring road. The change affects the container terminals MPET and Antwerp Gateway, the two largest in the port, which now operate from 5.00 to 21.30.

Starting on 20 March, they will be open for loading and unloading 24 hours a day during the week. That will allowed freight traffic to be spread out over 24 hours, the port said, reducing congestion on the notorious Antwerp ring.

“The transport sector has been pleading for years for a better spread of freight traffic,” said Philippe Degraef of industry federation Febetra. “Existing infrastructure needs to be put to better use.”

But logistics experts said the effect was likely to be minimal. In 1999, logistics company Noordnatie carried out a test on 24-hour loading and unloading and abandoned the exercise shortly after, said a spokesperson for sector association TLV.

“We have to get somewhere with our cargo during those off-peak hours,” he explained to De Standaard this week. “Imagine: a lorry picks up a container from the port at 3.00. Most are destined for a client within 150 kilometres or less. The lorry is at its destination within two or three hours, but factories and businesses are usually only open by 9.00, so the driver has more than two hours to wait.”

That means, the spokesperson said, that the gains from avoiding sitting in traffic are lost from drivers being paid to wait for factory gates to open. The only solution, he said, was for the entire logistics chain to operate 24 hours a day, not just two container terminals. 

Photo courtesy Havenbedrijf Antwerpen

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Port of Antwerp

The port of Antwerp is Europe’s second-largest port and one of the world’s most important ports for container traffic.
Going green - The port’s first-ever sustainability report won it the Award for Best Belgian Sustainability Report.
Size - The port takes up more space than the actual city of Antwerp.
Roots - Historians have found evidence for the port’s existence dating back to the 12th century.
154

barges entering the port daily

900

companies in the greater port area

184

tonnes of freight handled in 2012