IJmuiden sea lock: how the Port of Amsterdam defended its strong position with smart stakeholder management
In early 2022, the festive opening of the IJmuiden sea lock took place. With a length of 500 metres, a width of 70 metres and a depth of 18 metres, it is the largest sea lock in the world. Its realisation was not without its struggles. We spoke to Dertje Meijer and Karin Waasdorp about how they got a headache dossier moving again after a quarter of a century.
'Imagine that the old lock suddenly collapses because of war damage caused by a ship hitting it. Then you are out of business for months. So when it was discovered that we receive 8% of all shipping traffic in Europe, that we are much bigger than people thought, The Hague slowly started to change course. Of course, this did not happen overnight. We went along on the Ministry's trade missions. A Minister would accompany us, but large hydraulic engineering companies would also be present. And of course they are interested in building such a lock. So they talk about a new lock in the presence of the Minister. That's how the ball starts rolling. That's the first step in stakeholder management.'
'Only when it was discovered that we receive 8% of all shipping traffic in Europe, The Hague slowly changed course.'
'Mayor Cohen then made a stand for us', Dertje continues. 'He was told at one point that Minister Eurlings was in the Concertgebouw. Cohen immediately got on his bicycle to talk to Eurlings. Things like that are invaluable. In addition, the municipality of Amsterdam and the province were on a collision course. So we had to play the role of moderator.'
'Rijkswaterstaat is primarily interested in the flood defences', Karin explains. And a lock is a breach of the water barrier, because an awful lot of salt water comes in and you have to get rid of it. So we put a lot of effort into convincing the Rijkswaterstaat to build a bigger lock. But in addition to stakeholder management on the content, you also had to come to an agreement together on the financing. It had been agreed that the municipality and the province would pay for the expansion, while the State saw it as a replacement investment. I also travelled to Brussels several times to see if we could get European funding.'