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Small ferry operators in Zeeland want the help promised them

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

MIDDELBURG Entrepreneurs in the Dutch province of Zeeland who operate ferries for pedestrians and bicyclists who are frequently tourists, have raised concerns that the province has still not come through with its promises for an operation guarantee. The ferry owners face stringent provincial safety and manning requirements as well as much costlier fuel. Proposals to include the ferries in the public transportation system have not gained any support from the authorities while the hardship fund for distress cases is no closer to becoming a reality. The islands of Zee-land, which are surrounded by sea arms on all sides, at one time were home to over 200 ferry services. Since the disastrous flood of February 1, 1953, 55 years ago, a series of dams, tunnels, bridges and dikes were built to reduce the dangers from the sea, causing much of the ferry industry to become redundant. The need for local ferries remained, however, since major road routes are not viable options for someone using a bicycle. That the small ferries are essential for tourism and a cultural heritage is not disputed by anyone. Without basic income guarantees, the current seventeen ferry services may soon be reduced to twelve.