Transport chain gets government support to ensure supplies and services

Summary

All those packages ordered over the internet are competing with the transport of critical supplies, like medicine and food, so the government has set up a task force

‘No compromise’

The government of Flanders has established a taskforce to support the region’s logistics chain during the coronavirus crisis and ensure the smooth delivery of shipments to hospitals, businesses, supermarkets and individuals.

Logistics companies have come under increasing pressure in recent weeks as the virus outbreak continues. As well as the crucial supply of food, medicines and medical equipment, people are buying more goods online that must then be delivered. This is leading to unpredictable peaks in demand, at a time when logistics companies are struggling with fewer staff due to illness.

The Logistics Resilience Task Force met for the first time this week, led by Vil, Flanders’ innovation cluster for logistics. The group consists of representatives from the sector as well as the transport industry and ministers.

Food, healthcare and retail

“The current measures are having a significant impact on our businesses,” said Flemish mobility and public works minister Lydia Peeters. “But the provision of essential sectors must not be compromised. We must not stand still.”

The focus will be on logistics in three sectors that are critical in the short term during the crisis: food, healthcare and retail. All modes of transport are involved.

The taskforce will map and co-ordinate the needs and initiatives of the logistics chain to be able to match supply and demand. It will also provide advice to the sector on dealing with the effects of the crisis.

It is important that this sector continues to function, so that essential sectors don’t go without supplies

- Minister Hilde Crevits

Strict guidelines about contact between staff will be drawn up, to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further via the transport sector.

“The logistics industry is currently under pressure,” said Flemish economy and labour minister Hilde Crevits. “It is important that this sector is able to continue functioning, so that essential sectors don’t go without supplies. Continuing to work is necessary, in the safest conditions.”

Peeters last month launched a similar task force for the maritime industry. That initiative sees the region’s four ports – Antwerp, Ghent, Zeebrugge and Ostend – working with organisations in the Netherlands to ensure they remain operational during the crisis.

Photo: Shironosov/Getty Images