A port of and for people

Marc Van Peel - voorzitter Havenbedrijf2010 was the year in which various major projects of great symbolic importance took shape. The deepening of the Scheldt is now a reality, and the urgently needed second lock on the left bank has been given the go-ahead by the Flemish government. These two results will have a major impact on the future of our port, the city and the region.

But the economic and political questions are not the only significant ones; as chairman of the Port Authority I attach a great deal of importance to the place of the port in our modern society. For me, 2010 was also the Year of People. Those who make the port what it is, day-in, day-out, as well as those who rediscover the port and learn to appreciate it. As a world port we have moved geographically farther and farther away from the city over the years. Unfortunately, out of sight is out of mind, and so we tend to forget how our daily lives are intimately bound up with this “gateway to the world.” One of the big public attractions was undoubtedly the start of The Tall Ships Races in Antwerp, a summer event that drew several hundred thousand spectators to our port city. They were able to enjoy a magnificent spectacle and experience a completely different aspect of the port activities.

We as a Port Authority are an important sponsor of a whole series of initiatives. Indeed we consider it as one of our tasks to participate in the life of society and contribute to it. The Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS) is one such example. Not only are we a co-founder of this museum but we also worked hard last year on setting up the MAS Port Pavilion. This unique multimodal visitors’ centre at the foot of the MAS was officially opened at the beginning of this year and is now undoubtedly one of the city’s major attractions. It is symbolically located in the old docklands, at the edge of the modern port. For some people it is their first introduction to the modern port, while for others it is a welcome rediscovery. It is events and achievements such as these, large and small, that made 2010 the “year of the public,” with a port of and for people.

Marc Van Peel
Port Alderman
Chairman, Antwerp Port Authority

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