Bruges seaport consolidates its leading position as the world’s biggest automotive hub. 2.8 million cars were shipped from Zeebrugge which also reached record employment figures with 1,695 dock workers.
Zeebrugge is by far the world’s largest port when it comes to car transhipments. A whopping 2,776,113 cars were shipped in 2016.
“We were up by 14.3% compared to 2015,” says Managing Director of the Zeebrugge Port Authority Joachim Coens. The countries showing the most growth in automotive in Zeebrugge are the United States (+ 47.5%), Sweden (+ 31.7%) and Spain (+ 25.4%).
7.6% more dockers
The growing traffic has a positive impact on employment. Never has Zeebrugge employed that many dockers, wrote newspaper Krant van West-Vlaanderen: 1,695 in December 2016, or 7.6% more than in 2015. Last year, dockers worked 342,712 shifts, which is 15.4% more than the year before.
This year also promises to be a good one. New car flows have already started in 2017, from the Far East and to Ireland.
Ground-breaking ceremony at sea lock in 2017
Efforts are being made to open up the inner harbour to ship traffic in order to accommodate the growing automotive sector. The port has initiated the Strategic Harbour Infrastructure Project or SHIP to that effect.
The old Visart lock will be replaced by a new sea lock farther inland. A channel will be created at the site of the current Visart lock, giving access to a limited open tidal zone extending up to the new lock.
“Minister Ben Weyts promised that the ground-breaking ceremony will take place during the current parliamentary term. I am confident he will keep this promise.”
Expanding for automotive
Also for the port’s automotive activities, Coens plans to expand capacity by 156 hectares. “At present, 390 hectares of our inner port are allocated to automotive logistics. 70 hectares are still unoccupied along the Boudewijnkanaal,” says Coens, “where a new quay wall of 1,130 metres should give sea-going vessels the option to berth there in the future.”
Watch here the video of automotive activities in the Port of Zeebrugge.