On 20 June 2023, the members of the Seine-Scheldt Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) met at the new lock site at Vive-Saint-Bavon (Wielsbeke municipality) in Flanders, in the presence of the European coordinator of the North Sea Mediterranean Corridor (NSMED), Professor Peter Balàzs.
The new service building
After their quarterly meeting, held for the occasion on the premises of the new service building, they took part in the inauguration of the new lock complex, in the presence of the Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters, the Mayor of Wielsbeke Jan Stevens, Chairman Koen Anciaux and the Managing Director of De Vlaamse Waterweg nv Chris Danckaerts.
The new complex was built by De Vlaamse Waterweg nv, in collaboration with the Department of Mobility and Public Works, the Agency for Nature and Forests, the Flemish Government’s design department (Xperta), Arch & Teco, Artes Depret, Franki Construct (Willemen Groep), Herbosch-Kiere, Stadsbader, Tractebel, Equans and Hye.
At a total cost of €70m, the project was co-financed by the European Union via the Conecting Europe Facility (CEF) as part of the Seine-Scheldt European river network project.
The new lock (280 m long, 16 m wide) was commissioned in August 2020. It can accommodate vessels with a load capacity of up to 4,500 tonnes and three layers of containers. These class Vb barges will take around 220 lorries off the road. On the site of the old lock, which was too small, new quay walls and a mortise quay have been built. This has considerably increased transhipment capacity, thus encouraging modal shift.
The new lock at Vive-Saint-Bavon
The obsolete dam was also renovated to improve control of the water line: the electromechanical equipment was replaced and the gantry renovated, with a facade cladding similar to that of the new service building, creating a beautiful aesthetic whole.
Next to the dam, a fish pass has been built to enable aquatic species to migrate in complete safety. The Vive-Saint-Bavon operation is therefore also exemplary from an ecological point of view.
The inauguration of the lock complex at Vive-Saint-Bavon, along the river Lys, is therefore another major milestone in the completion of the Seine-Scheldt network.