At the moment port operations are functioning smoothly. There is sufficient manpower to meet the demand for foodstuffs, and supply operations are continuing normally. The EU's "green lanes" for truck transport are now working better at European level and directives are being drawn up specifically for the barge industry. The economic impact on the port is getting more and more difficult to forecast, given the uncertainty about how consumer confidence and industrial activity will return and what the effect on the logistics chain will be.
The Port of Antwerp Covid-19 taskforce held its third meeting this morning. This multi-disciplinary, cross-border taskforce brings together the 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.
Port platform remains operational
At the moment the port platform is still working perfectly and there are no insurmountable problems. The rate of absence due to illness is actually falling throughout the chain of transport. There is a clear battle of efficiency to keep Europe supplied, with the introduction of EU "green lanes."
At the same time a directive is being drawn up specifically for barge operators in case of illness on board. This directive will be published once it has been finally approved by the relevant authorities.
In the meantime the existing measures continue to apply:
- Basic preventive hygiene measures
- Provision of sufficient cleaning products for machines
- Documents exchanged in digital form wherever possible, in order to keep human contact to a minimum
- Ships' crews and personnel on land communicate at a distance (by radio or telephone) wherever possible
- Application of the rules of social distancing as far as possible, in particular by keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between people
At the moment Port of Antwerp is not experiencing any fall in the volume of freight. In fact there is a noticeable increase in the volume of pharmaceuticals and e-commerce. The supply of foodstuffs is also going smoothly. On the other hand there has been a fall in imports and exports of cars and other industrial components due to various industries closing down.
The large degree of uncertainty about the spread of the coronavirus and the effects on consumer confidence and the supply chains make it increasingly difficult to forecast the economic impact on the Port of Antwerp. Port of Antwerp will continue to monitor the situation and will respond to the demands of the logistics operators and the terminals.
For more information, see our Coronavirus web page. Besides that, we are organising a webinar on the economic and operational impact of corona on the Port of Antwerp. Register for this free webinar on Friday 3 April here.