Dubbing an announcement by Katoen Natie’s CEO and owner Fernand Huts as "premature," the port authority (HbA) says that no concession has yet been granted for any of the 15 bids entered for parts of the 150-ha former MSC Home Terminal in the locked Delwaidedock complex.
HbA did acknowledge, however, that an extension of the 11-ha site that Katoen Natie already operates at Delwaidedok has been under discussion.
Katoen Natie wants to add an adjacent 25-ha of land to its existing warehousing and opena storage facility on the south bank of the Delwaidedok. This 11-ha parcel and the additional 25-ha plot have no waterfront.
Fernand Huts stated that Katoen Natie plans to erect a warehouse complex for e-commerce logistics, creating around 400 jobs with an investment of €98M.
However, he wants the complex to be operated on the basis of the normal rates in the Belgian DC industry, rather than on the basis of the more expensive "Major Law" that applies to all port-related labour and is aimed at protecting dock labour interests.
Fernand Huts has been lobbying against the Major Law for years, arguing that warehousing companies should be entitled to apply the same labour conditions for non-waterfront warehouse work as, for example, Belgian Mail.
Katoen Natie earlier complained to the EU about the size of the penalties raised by HbA against Deurganckdok operators DP World and PSA. As previously reported, the operators should have been charged €45M and €23M respectively, but HbA charged €9.4M and €4M.
Fernand Huts argued that these "let offs" amounted to unfair competition, but the European Commission decided that HbA was entitled to consider the dramatic consequences for container volumes of the 2008-09 global economic crisis.