February 10 - Flemish minister Ben Weyts and Dutch minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen have signed a treaty between the Netherlands and Flanders for the construction of a new lock, which aims to improve access to the ports of Ghent and Terneuzen.

The signing of the lock treaty took place at the lock complex in Terneuzen, in the presence of president of Ghent Port Company, Mathias De Clercq, and the company's ceo Daan Schalck, as well as the mayor of Terneuzen, Jan Lonink.

The signing of the treaty marks an important step in the progress of the new lock, but it remains for the parliaments of Flanders and the Netherlands to ratify the treaty so that construction can begin. If all goes to plan, ground is expected to be broken in 2017, with a projected completion date of 2021.

The new lock will be built inside the present lock complex at Terneuzen, and will be 427 m long and 55 m wide, with a depth of 16.44 m. It is estimated to cost EUR920 million (USD1.03 billion) to construct.

Ghent Port Company said the lock will provide a smoother passage of inland vessels between the Netherlands, Belgium and France, and is its biggest ever investment in port infrastructure.

Increasing the total capacity of the lock complex will also improve the transport corridor to and from France. This will be of benefit to the economies of both Flanders and the Netherlands, and also to the Ghent-Terneuzen canal zone, said Ghent Port Company.