Investing in the further promotion of inland navigation
Today, the new Willems quay along the Dessel-Kwaadmechelen canal was officially opened in Balen. With the construction of such quays, Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters wants to convince even more companies to opt for the sustainable waterway: "In the next three years, Flanders will annually invest 13 million euros or a total of 39 million euros in the construction of quays that will allow companies to use inland navigation. The main budget goes to the continuation of the quay programme. In addition, we are also planning to spend 16 million euros on dredging works for the further development of the small waterways."
Willems is already setting a good example by adding an extra 'ramp' to the waterway with their brand new Willems quay along the Dessel-Kwaadmechelen canal in Balen. Together with De Vlaamse Waterweg nv, the company invested in the construction of this new loading and unloading quay. In doing so, the company is shifting up a gear when it comes to sustainable transport via the waterways and is becoming an even greater 'ambassador of the water highway'.
Willems is part of Smulders, an international steel construction company that creates complex steel structures for the Offshore Wind Industry, the Civil Market and Industry. The company already transports 7,000 tons annually via the waterway. In the near future, the company wants to transport even more finished products by water.
"Willems takes trucks off the road and puts them on the water. Each ship loaded with steel constructions avoids an average of 13 full trucks on the road," emphasises Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters approvingly. "Via the waterway, goods can be transported more efficiently and cheaply because fewer truck kilometres are needed. I am convinced that their example can be inspiring for other companies."
The new quay has a total length of 186 m, a quay surface of 1,350 m² and a draught of 3.50 m. It can therefore accommodate, load and unload ships of up to 2,000 tonnes.
The contractor for the new quay was De Brandt from Baasrode. Total cost of the project is 1,600,000 euros (excl. VAT). 110 m of the new loading and unloading quay will be used by Willems, which was realised within the PPP quay programme. In addition, De Vlaamse Waterweg also invested in 78 m of new bank protection to ensure a good connection between the Willems quay and bridge 6 Balen-Hoolst. The Willems company also invested another 400,000 euros in the construction of the site next to the quay.
"This new quay gives us the opportunity to further develop the supply of large steel constructions up to 8 m high and 22 m wide in a sustainable way; for example, for module construction for industry or bridge building. But also, and mainly, constructions for the Offshore Wind Industry. This quay wall came about through a PPP collaboration with De Vlaamse Waterweg", explains Raf Iemants, Managing Director Smulders.