The celebrations to mark the reconstruction of the floating pontoon bridge installed on the River Scheldt at the beginning of WW1 have fallen victim to their own success as they were plagued by organizational hiccups last Friday and Saturday. Several thousands of ticket holders were not able to make the crossing due to delays on Friday evening and Saturday.
Based on this, and as a preventive measure, the organizers decided to cancel six Saturday night and Sunday crossing slots.
A total of 12,000 ticket holders will not be able to make the crossing and their tickets will be refunded.
These problems arose because visitors were taking longer to cross than the organizers had estimated.
To confound the problem, the floating pontoon bridge, consisting of fifty individual floating pontoons, had to be taken apart several times over the course of the day to enable river traffic to travel along the Scheldt river and allow the boats that hold the floating bridge in place to refuel. These constraints made it virtually impossible to absorb the delays and get the crossings back on track.
The reconstructed bridge was opened on Friday by King Philip and Queen Matilda, with dozens of personalities in attendance.
At the beginning of World War 1 in 1914, a similar floating bridge was used by thousands of Antwerp inhabitants to flee the port city before the arrival of the Germans.
The 370-meter-long bridge was installed by a Dutch-Belgian team. It consists of 49 pontoons which can be taken apart and then reassembled so as not to (hugely) disrupt boat traffic on the Scheldt.
Oscar Schneider (Source: Belga)