Farmers gather at ports of Ghent and Antwerp in renewed protest

Farmers are continuing to protest at the ports of Ghent and Antwerp on Thursday morning. In Ghent at 8.30, about 100 farmers were present, but "they are following the instructions of the police", said East Flanders governor Carina Van Cauter. Blockades like those at previous protests are forbidden. Meanwhile, a group of tractors set up short blockades in the Waasland area of the port of Antwerp.

In Ghent, local police made it clear to demonstrators gathered at a busy roundabout in the port area that blockades were forbidden. Police officers said they would intervene if the actions were similar to previous farmers' protests. Tractors will drive slowly through the port area. "If there are any violations, they will be reported," Van Cauter said.

"The farmers are following the instructions of the police. If there are any violations, they will be reported"

Previous farmers' protests have seen critical points such as the busy Euro-Silo roundabout on the Ghent ring road - where farmers have gathered again today - and the ArcelorMittal roundabout and the Zelzate bridge blocked. There was no repeat of this on Thursday morning, but tractors were still arriving during the day.

'All means' will be used

In the run-up to the ' protest on Thursday, several authorities around the port of Ghent made it clear that blockades would not be allowed. "All means, both police and judicial - with an injunction - will be used," Van Cauter said. "But we assume - as the situation is now - that this will not be necessary."

Meanwhile, on Antwerp's Left Bank, a number of tractors gathered for protests in and around the port area, without setting up blockades. It is not clear what their plans are for the rest of the day. Photos of tractors gathering in car parks in Mechelen, with an as yet unknown destination, have also appeared on social media.

Short blockades

On Wednesday evening, the Antwerp Port Authority obtained an interim injunction prohibiting blockades on the access roads to the port area, on both the left and right banks. However, in the Waasland area, a group of farmers in tractors started to set up short blockades on Thursday morning. They drove around on the R2 near the Waaslandhaven-Noord complex, briefly blocking roundabouts and junctions before moving on.

Bart Dickens of the Farmers Defence Force confirmed last weekend that farmers would take to the streets again on Thursday. On Wednesday evening, he said he did not yet know exactly what the protests would entail.


#FlandersNewsService | Tractors at the Euro-Silo roundabout in the Ghent port area © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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