French hauliers block Calais border

Published: 05 September 2016

French hauliers block Calais border
French hauliers have forged a blockade around the Calais border as well as the main motorway route towards Calais, causing chaos for UK hauliers and holidaymakers. They have demanded that the French government provide a date to dismantle the camp known as the Jungle, refusing to move until said date is given. Farmers in tractors have also joined the blockade.

As violence in the area has increased due to the migrant crisis, specifically towards hauliers, the Association of Calais Traders has taken this action to demonstrate to the government the impact on their work the current crisis is having. Euro Tunnel have advised that those wishing to cross the channel use one of the alternative methods of transport.

A representative of the association spoke with reporters: “We are changing our tactics after using soft methods and obtaining nothing but promises from the state that is giving priority to the wellbeing of the migrants over those of traders, port workers, hauliers, tourists and farmers.”

This also means UK drivers travelling across the border cannot get in or out of France. Since reports of increased violence at Calais there have been no attempts by the French government to improve security quality at the border, resulting in many troubled hauliers travelling the border as they are violently attacked by migrants who attempt to enter their trailers.

In recent weeks, organised gangs have been holding up lorries approaching the port and blocking roads with trees and other obstacles to allow migrants to climb on board. Regional head of the French Haulage Association David Sagnard said: “Migrant violence hasn’t gone up a notch, it has gone up ten floors.”

Meanwhile UK and French governments are still in discussion of what will happen to the camp in the next few years, Regional Head of the Nord Pas de Calais Xavier Bertrand feels the camp should be moved to the UK county of Kent. The Home Secretary Amber Rudd meets with French interior minister telling reports that any attempt by France to scrap border checks will have severe consequences. Bertrand warned that “It is not possible to keep the border here without a new agreement between the French and British governments.”

Bertrand also called for migrants rights to claim asylum in the UK while still in Calais, making the border more accessible for migrants within their rights to enter the UK along with proposed hotspots for migrants across the UK to decrease the amount of migrants currently at the border.

Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins gave his own comments regarding the proposal of UK hotspots for migrants saying: “Creating these 'hotspots' would undoubtedly make the situation in Calais worse, as it would attract even more refugees to the camps, in the false hope that they would be able to enter the UK in this way. We would also be perfectly within our rights to decline their asylum application, as they are already in a safe country.” 

For the meantime, the treaty agreed by France and the UK mean border checks will continue for the foreseeable future, but there can be no predictions at what the 2 secretaries will agree to do with the estimated 6,000 migrants currently living in the camp.

In the past few weeks several people have died in fights and accidents and the Government have given no signs of increasing security for drivers at the border. This has led to the hauliers blocking the border, refusing to move their vehicles blocking access to the UK until the government take action to shut down the northern area of “The Jungle” in Calais. Migrants that have been detained can only be released back into the camp, leading to further violence the following evening.

Reports also reveal the French government are sending fewer migrants to their country of origin, meaning the number of migrants within the camp is only going to increase until they take action as the HGV drivers are demanding. The mayor of Calais: Natacha Bouchart blames her own government and Britain for causing a crisis in the town stating she is “determined to show the people we are not happy with the situation.”

She commented: “Either this government is failing to grasp the gravity of the situation or it no longer knows what to do and its inaction is an admission of impotence.” Meanwhile, members of the blockade told reports: “We will not budge from the motorway until the state gives us the dates for the total demolition of the northern zone of the 'Jungle'."
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