During the works on the pedestrian tunnel last year, a second ferry was already installed to transport travelers across the Scheldt. That measure was removed in April. Mobility Minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) found 1.8 million euros to revive the second spring. On Thursday, February 1, it sailed again from the cruise terminal at Het Steen to Linkeroever.
The local PVDA faction, led by district councilor Nadine Peeters, rolled out the red carpet and presented several employees with a large bouquet of flowers. “We noticed that when the second ferry was abolished, both the Flemish government and the city council pointed fingers at each other,” says Peeters. “Now that the extra ferry is sailing again, everyone is trying to put their feathers in their cap. While we with PVDA have continued to fight for the return of that second ferry. We thank every traveler and everyone who works on the ferry.”
After the flowers had been received, it was time to make our crossing to Linkeroever. From now on you can do this every fifteen to twenty minutes. Guillaume Peeters (72) also briefly exchanges solid ground – the ‘journey’ takes a few minutes – for the ‘wild’ Scheldt. “I don’t use the ferry every day,” says Guillaume, “but I enjoy being on the water. I myself have a sailboat in the marina on the Left Bank. It is a different feeling than traveling by tram. If I have to wait too long and I’m by bike, I sometimes take the tunnel. But with the winter sun on our faces, I thought it would be ideal to make the crossing by boat.”
“In the summer the ferry is often completely full,” says Guillaume. “Then you also see many families with children using it and it can be quite busy. I also take the ferry much more often in the summer, because then we go cycling on the Left Bank and I suddenly pass by my own boat.”
In the meantime we have arrived at the other side of the city. We return together with Engdie Verstraelen (62) and his 35-year-old companion Peter Aerts. What brings them from the left to the right bank? “We come from the yacht club, where I live and work,” says Engdie. “Peter is a good friend of mine. Together we will go to the Kempisch Dok, where my sailing boat is moored.”
Do they often travel by water? “I don’t,” says Engdie. “You often see me on my bike, so I take the tunnel.” Peter, on the other hand, is a ‘sea boy’. “I live outside the city, in Lier,” he says. “When I come to Antwerp, I first take a walk on the right bank and then take the ferry to the other side, to walk around there and have something to eat, often on the beach of Sint-Anneke. When the weather is nice, you can really enjoy it. Crossing by boat immediately creates a holiday atmosphere.”
With the solid city ground under our feet again, we bump into three sisters. Annemie (69), Hilde (64) and Tinne (71) Kersschot just went for a walk on the Left Bank. “All three of us live on the right bank,” they say. “We usually go out somewhere else, but today we accidentally chose to use the ferry and go to the other side of the city.”
Tinne knows quite a few people on the Left Bank, so the ferry has few secrets for her. “And we often go cycling there,” she says. “It is wonderful to stay there. I think it’s ideal that the ferry now goes back and forth more often. Also for those who live on the Left Bank. It is a very pleasant way to ‘travel’. When we were standing in front of the pedestrian tunnel just now, we thought: ‘the sun is shining, we’ll take the boat’. My grandchildren also enjoy the ferry. This is a wonderful mode of transportation, even when it rains. That doesn’t bother us, you know.”