Pineapples all the way from Costa Rica to Brussels by boat
A. De Witte is a wholesaler in vegetable and fruit. His pineapples come from Costa Rica by boat and from now on the local transport between the port of Antwerp and Brussels will be done by inland waterways. In spite of the first experiment being delayed.
On Tuesday the container ship had a delay in the port of Antwerp, so the pilot project to bring pineapples to Brussels by waterways started a little depressing. However De Witte believes in the advantages of this means of transport because there will be less lorries stuck in traffic jams.
“This is cost effective and it reduces CO2 emission. Labour costs for drivers are high and one ship can transport up to 5 containers in one load. This way waterway transport is 25% cheaper compared to road transport”, adds Jurgen De Witte, CEO of A. De Witte Group.
Less road tax
“It is impossible to transport all kinds of fruit by waterway, but for goods such as pineapples, bananas, mangos and oranges it it perfect”, says De Witte. What’s more, companies using waterways or railways have to pay less road taxes if they make enough use of these means of transportation.
De Witte has 20 containers coming in every week of which 5 containers arrive at the port of Antwerp. He hopes to convince his suppliers of sending the containers which actually arrive in Rotterdam or Zeebrugge today, to Antwerp because from there they directly can take the inland waterways to Brussels. Eventually De Witte wants to transport halve of its containers by waterway and the other halve by road.
Waterway transport in the lift
Transport by Flemish waterways is growing. In 2015 565.000 containers were shipped by inland waterways, which is five times more compared to 1999. 20% of these goods are bulk products for construction purposes.
Also oil products are often transported by waterways. Only 4 % of the waterway transport is food. The government invests in this means of transportation. The 4 most important ports for inland water transport are Antwerp, Ghent, Ostend and Zeebrugge. According to promotion Waterway Flanders 80% of the Flemish companies are located at a distance less than 10 km from a waterway.