Port of Antwerp Covid-19 Taskforce: supply chains still working
The second meeting of the Port of Antwerp Covid-19 Taskforce was held this morning. It confirmed that the port continues to work perfectly as an essential link for the supply of Belgium and a large part of Europe.
So far there has not been any drop in the volume of shipping, except for the expected fall in the number of arrivals from China. Various new members have joined the Taskforce, and several points for attention were defined. In particular the subject of "Green Lanes" was put forward in order to further guarantee efficient supplies for the region.
The Port of Antwerp Covid-19 Taskforce held its second meeting yesterday. This multi-disciplinary, cross-border taskforce is made up of various players in the port organisation. It was set up to monitor the day-to-day operation of the port, with a view to taking additional measures where necessary. In addition to the original participants, Infrabel (rail track operator) and the Federal Agency for Safety of the Food Chain have now joined the taskforce.
At the moment the port platform remains operational and there are no insurmountable problems. In consultation with the agency for Maritime Services & Coast (MDK), a second location has been pressed into service temporarily for the Antwerp Coordination Centre (ACC), which is responsible for shipping traffic management. In this way the personnel can be spread over the two locations and the ACC kept 100% operational.
The Taskforce also defined various other points for attention:
Due to declining production and consumption in many industries there has been a slowdown in outward movements of goods and raw materials, leading to a pile-up. This has resulted in a shortage of warehouse capacity, tank storage and space for storing trucks, both in the port and in the hinterland. Alternatives are being sought to deal with this shortage.
All EU internal borders have been closed to movements of persons. Exceptions are being made for personnel in essential industries, and "green lanes" are being set up as fast lanes for trucks so that they can cross the border in not more than 15 minutes. However, in the past few days there have still been long queues at border crossings in Europe. The Taskforce will take this matter up with the relevant authorities.
The existing measures remain in force: Basic preventive hygiene measures; Sufficient cleaning materials made available for machines; Documents exchanged digitally as much as possible, so as to keep human contact to a minimum; Ship's crews and personnel on the quayside communicate mainly at a distance (by radio and telephone); Rules of social distancing applied as much as possible, in particular by keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between people.
So far there has not been any significant drop in the volume of shipping. In the meantime the demand for healthy foodstuffs and long-life foodstuffs continues to grow. On the other hand a big economic impact is expected in the next few weeks due to many large export industries shutting down, such as the car industry. Port of Antwerp will continue to monitor this situation closely, and will react to demand from the logistics operators and terminals.
The Port of Antwerp Covid-19 Taskforce will meet weekly. This frequency will be increased should it become necessary. For more information, please visit our Coronavirus web page.