New Port of Antwerp lock becomes a tourist attraction

New Port of Antwerp lock. Image courtesy of the Belgian Government
New Port of Antwerp lock. Image courtesy of the Belgian Government

One might not consider the inauguration of a new lock at the Port of Antwerp a must see event, but in June month people will be able to view the event from a gondola atop a giant ferris wheel 55 metres in the air. But you’d better be quick and book your place fast.

The new Kieldrecht lock at the Port of Antwerp is the biggest in the world, a quite magnificent work of engineering. It stands 500 metres long, 68 metres wide and with a depth of nearly 18 metres. It was previously referred to as the Deurganckdok lock, but takes its new name from a public competition to name the lock.

Kieldrecht is part of the municipality of Beveren on the left bank of the Scheldt, a local area that the port authority wanted to mark by the choosing of the new name. The other lock on the left bank, the Kallo, is named after another district of Beveren.

A ride on the big ferris wheel over the new lock will cost €5. All you have to do is go to the lock’s website and book your tickets. Choose which day you want to come to the three day event – the slots are hourly. The ride promises a panoramic view of not only the lock, but also the surrounding river landscape.

The importance of the second lock on the left bank
Construction of the Kieldrecht lock was necessary in order to ensure better access to the port area on the Left bank of the Scheldt, as the existing Kallo lock had reached its limits. The new lock will also benefit companies in this part of the port as well as providing security of operation, as each lock can act as a backup for the other. The return on this investment will take the form of greater maritime, industrial and logistical activity in the port of Antwerp.

Importance for Flanders and the significance for Europe
A project such as the second lock on the Left bank is crucial for Flanders. It is one of the key projects for the Flemish government and forms part of the objectives of the Pact 2020 plan which states that the accessibility of the Flemish ports must be safeguarded.

Thanks to the Kieldrecht lock the Port of Antwerp will be able to handle the increased size of modern ships and to maintain and even reinforce the port’s leading position in Europe. The new lock offers many advantages including:

– Shorter waiting times for ships,
– More shipping traffic and thus greater added value,
– Faster routes for ships and for hinterland transport.

The project also fits in with the ambition of the European Union to develop a transnational, multimodal transport network by 2030. The Port of Antwerp is an important hub for the new EU core transport network. Seaports play a crucial role as logistics centres and have need of efficient hinterland connections. Their development is essential in order to cope with the constantly growing cargo volumes, both for short sea shipping within Europe and for intercontinental shipping.

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