Ghent and Zeeland ports seal the deal
North Sea Port is the name of the newly-merged Zeeland Seaports and Ghent Port Company, which it is hoped will eventually have a dedicated cross-border rail freight link. A symbolic signing ceremony took place aboard a ship sailing from Ghent in Belgium across the border in the direction of Terneuzen in The Netherlands.
The port area covers the 60-kilometre-long cross-border area of Flushing, Borsele and Terneuzen in The Netherlands up to Ghent. Present at the signing were Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois, the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, and the shareholders, directors, clients, relations and staff of both ports.
It follows a consultation period between September and December, during which time the eight shareholders approved the merger agreement. In Flanders, these were the city of Ghent and the municipalities of Evergem and Zelzate and the province of East Flanders, and in The Netherlands the province of Zeeland and the municipalities of Borsele, Terneuzen and Vlissingen.
The port has ambitious plans, aiming to be a major player in the international ports arena. By 2022 it wants to have increased its added value by 10 per cent, maritime traffic to 70 million tonnes (currently 62 million tonnes) and inland traffic to 60 million tonnes (currently 55 million tonnes). The employment is expected to grow to 100,000 jobs (direct and indirect, currently rounded off to 97,000). North Sea Port has almost 1,000 hectares allocatable land.
Rail freight access
The Employees’ Organisation for Brabant and Zeeland (BZW Zealand) has previously said that rail freight access between the two port authorities is a major issue for the area’s infrastructure, and that a rail link between Terneuzen and Belgium’s Flanders region would ‘greatly enhance’ Zeeland’s business competitiveness.