Antwerp Port Authority had signed an agreement with Zeeland Safety Region to finance a fireboat on the Dutch part of the Western Scheldt.
After flowing through Belgium the river Scheldt passes into Dutch territory where it becomes the Scheldt estuary or “Western Scheldt,” bordering the Dutch province of Zeeland. The recent agreement, which is actually a renewal of the covenant signed in 2010, provides for the further financing of a third firefighting boat in the eastern part of the Western Scheldt. Antwerp Port Authority will contribute 150,000 euros towards making the vessel available along with the operating costs.
The boat financed by Antwerp Port Authority will be berthed in the Berendrecht-Zandvliet channel and will operate in the area between the Belgian-Dutch border and Hansweert. The other two boats operate in the areas between Flushing and Terneuzen and between Terneuzen and Hansweert.
The boats have not actually had to respond to any emergencies in the past few years, but safety on the Western Scheldt on Dutch territory is also important for the port of Antwerp; it is the only sea access for Antwerp, and so safety has to be guaranteed at all times.
Apart from economic reasons the safety of people living nearby also has to be protected. “This collaboration shows that the people of Flanders and Zeeland are very good neighbours who both attach highest importance to safety on the Western Scheldt," declared port alderman Marc Van Peel.
“The agreement is a win-win for all concerned. It demonstrates our commitment to maintaining the navigability of the Scheldt, and gives an extra assurance of safety for the people of Zeeland.”