2009 traffic figures for port of Ghent
In 2009, port of Ghent recorded a cargo traffic of 37.2 million tonnes, 21% less than in the record year 2008. At the end of 2009 only a slight decrease was recorded, which gives hope for the future. Ghent Port Company already prepares itself for a revival with quite a set of investments and a strategic plan.
2008 was an absolute record year with its 47 million tonnes, but 2009 clocked at 21% less cargo handling. In comparison with 2007 (42.8 million tonnes) total cargo traffic decreased by 13%.
In percentages, the first quarter of 2009 recorded a decrease by 23% for the total transhipment (seagoing and inland navigation), the second quarter one by 33% and the third presented 22% less cargo traffic. The fourth quarter registered a decline by barely 3%.
This causes the decrease over the last months of 2009 to be considerably smaller than during the first months. Especially for seagoing navigation December was the best month: an increase by 32% as compared to December 2008. During that same month, inland navigation grew by 7%.
Dry bulk – which represents 60% of all cargo traffic - experienced the largest drop. The general crisis in the steel industry lies at the basis of the sharp decreases in raw materials such as ores and coal. Liquid bulk remains steady. For example, the transhipment of fruit juice – typical of Ghent port - still stands.
In spite of a weak economic situation there still are a few striking cargo categories on the up. Positive is that Ghent was able to strengthen its important position in the processing of scrap into new raw materials. The compulsory adding of biodiesel creates an increase in the supply of rapeseed. The new companies that established themselves at the Kluizendok provide for nice tonnage increases for building materials.
Seagoing and inland navigation
In 2009 port of Ghent registered a seagoing cargo traffic of 20.8 million tonnes. In 2008 this was still 27 million tonnes. For 2009 this represents a decrease by 23% (6.2 million tonnes).
Inland navigation cargo traffic recorded 16.4 million tonnes in 2009 as against 20 million tonnes in 2008, an 18% drop (3.6 million tonnes).
Last year, a total of 16,128 vessels called at port of Ghent, i.e. 2,962 seagoing and 13,166 inland vessels. In 2008 the total was 19,165 units, comprising 3,463 seagoing and 15,702 inland vessels.
Working on a sustained change
However, Ghent Port Company looks ahead with hope in order to continue working on a revival in 2010. At the end of 2009 it was already decided not to increase the port dues for navigation for 2010.
Hopeful is the finding that Ghent does not have to cope with structural losses such as the closure of factories, which is partly due to the crisis measures by the Flemish government and by the city of Ghent. Moreover, the sites around the Kluizendok are steadily being completed with waterfront activities. It is equally hopeful that Ghent port started the year by maintaining all its liner services. Moreover, the container line with the east of the Mediterranean that was added at the end of 2009 will be further developed.
Working on the future
In the meantime, the Port Company approved a new long-range plan for the 2010–2014 period. This plan contains quite some investments – financed by proper means - for an amount of 10 million EUR.
Ghent Port Company furthermore invests in the development and upgrading of the docks. The Kluizendok will be further finished with dredging works in the dock and at the parallel quay with the canal. Also quays for deep-drawing vessels are planned and quays for inland navigation. At the Noorddok collectors will be built for treating waste and rain water in this zone. In this dock the ro/ro jetties will also be altered to fully-fledged quay walls. At the Sifferdok collectors will equally be built and at the northern side of the Rodenhuizedok a quay wall will be constructed.
Ghent Port Company also continues to invest in its business sites. The Rieme-North business site will be laid out and that of Moervaart-South will get an additional opening up.
In the field of road works, the Henri Farmanstraat and the Gerard van den Daelelaan will be rebuilt and upgraded.
At the Rigakaai a new architecturally innovative visitors' centre will be constructed where also the Bargees department of the Port Company will find its new accommodations.
Strategic plan 2010–2020
Moreover, these investments fit in the strategic plan for 2010–2020 that will be presented in spring of 2010. In this plan, the Port Company lays down its major choices for the coming 10 years.