Waterborne cargo transport gaining momentum

The Goederenvervoer over Water in een stroomversnelling meeting took place in Rotterdam's Wereldmuseum on Wednesday 22 June 2016. Regional Minister Rik Janssen opened the proceedings by calling on the shipping companies, shippers and other businesses present to take advantage of the opportunities available for smarter logistics, cleaner inland waterway transport and a stronger economy.

Smarter, cleaner, stronger

To meet current and future demand from shippers and shipping companies and position cargo movement by waterway as a fully-fledged transport modality, the region's inland waterway network must be utilized as fully and efficiently as possible - alongside smart functioning by road and rail. While the Dutch population is expanding and demand for products rising, the relevant necessary changes to the infrastructure are failing to keep pace.

For these reasons it is essential to make better use of the existing infrastructure. That depends on an optimum deployment of all transport modalities: road, rail and waterway shipping. The province attaches great importance to a healthy living environment. Ship transport is by tradition a sustainable modality. But the drive towards sustainability is making slow progress, and the sector is faced with big challenges to persist with the process of 'going green'. The province is giving a helping hand in this process. Its aim is to retain its position in inland waterway shipping and maintain and enhance the sector's economic added value as a logistic hotspot. Goods transport by inland waterway is an indispensable modality in that aspiration.


Participants at the meeting on 22 June shared information on developments and ideas concerning goods transport by waterway. Among the themes under discussion were comprehensive digitising of the logistic chain, the financial challenge, the 'greening' challenge for the fleet's skipper-owners to comply with new regulations and the greening challenge in terms of the consolidation of cargo flows. Shipping companies, forwarders and the inland waterway shipping industry have all demonstrated how they aim to take advantage of the opportunities available in that area. New and existing projects were presented and discussed as ‘opportunities'.

A good example among existing projects is the partnership between Zeeman and Heineken to reduce 'empty container kilometres' over the Gouwe waterway. That is achieved simply by having one and the same vessel deliver a consignment to one partner and simultaneously collect cargo from that same partner for transport to the opposite party. So there is more than one way to promote smarter, cleaner and more robust cargo transport by waterway.

We are seeing the search for renewal and strengthening at different levels - European, national, regional and local. Some initiatives are already under development, and these could make good use of a helping hand. Moreover the players with the right network, knowhow and expertise spawn yet more opportunities for arriving at a successful solution. The province aims to accelerate this trend by working in tandem with these players to examine and utilize opportunities.   Rik Janssen: "I see 22 June 2016 as another solid step in developing a programme for moving goods by Water. As well as launching new projects I plan to join other partners in linking waterway cargo transport projects that are already up and running with each other, and propel them into an accelerated pace."  The province plans to help remove barriers, link up the various players and contribute to discussing and implementing initiatives on the market. One example is the province's activities relating to the preservation of mooring places and 'wet' (shipping related) industrial sites. Applications come in regularly for the zoning designation of such sites to be altered to housing construction, for instance. But the key factor for cargo movement by inland waterway is precisely to maintain access to strategic locations over both land and water. By linking and cooperating closely with players and projects, a better throughput of waterborne cargo and a better outcome in terms of spatial planning is stimulated.


The meeting closed with a graphic impression of the opportunities and those present signing an agreement to take action together. There was broad agreement on the observed fact that we are all looking for answers in the same direction and that it is good to buckle down and get going on the task ahead. Rik Janssen called above all for continuing with talks. The province has a part to play in this.  Players must continue to inspire each other. The province would like to invite the network, in its present form or otherwise, to meet again in a year's time to review how things have evolved and what fresh opportunities have come up.