RHA calls for action on Calais crisis

Published: 25 June 2015

RHA calls for action on Calais crisis

The Road Haulage Association has called upon the UK Government to lead EU discussions in an aim to try and resolve the current chaos in Calais.

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the RHA has said:
‘’I welcome the announcement by the Government of more resources however, I believe that only concerted and integrated co-operation right across Europe can resolve this problem.

The resulting delays in freight vehicle movements are costing hauliers millions of pounds. For every hundred vehicles that have had no alternative but to wait, the cost will have been in excess of £30,000 per day. Although no definitive figure for the amount of vehicles stationery in Operation Stack at any one time is available, we’ve received reports from members that numbers at peak periods were over 2,500. This equates to a massive loss of £750,000 per day.

As well as the stress and fear being experienced by the drivers, the freight companies are taking a serious financial hit. In addition to the loss of revenue due to vehicles standing, an incalculable amount of money is also being lost through missed delivery times. What was a chronic situation is now turning into an acute emergency.’’

A strike by French ferry workers has caused utter chaos both sides of the Channel, with huge tailbacks on roads leading to the ports of Dover and Calais as well as Calais being overrun by thousands of migrants attempting to board lorries bound for the UK.

Major truck queues still on the wau to Dover
Calais has become the focus of attention recently as migrant numbers close to the port have increased to more than 3,000 in the last 2 months.

According to estimates, the number of migrants at Calais has reached over 3,000 and aid workers believe 2,000 more refugees from Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan could arrive over the next few months.
Aerial footage of the stretch of road heading from Calais towards the Eurotunnel, shows migrants desperately jumping in to a moving lorry before another migrant runs to close the vehicle's doors shut.

While Channel Tunnel services are now beginning to return back to normal, this will be of very little consolation to lorry drivers who are making regular journeys from Calais to Dover. Many of which are claiming that migrants are ‘torturing’ them daily in desperate attempts to across the channel into the UK.

One lorry driver told Good Morning Britain: "They’ve been torturing us the whole day. We’ve chased them but they don’t run away, they’re not scared anymore. It’s time something was done about it."

"We need help, they are aggressive, they are closing the doors so we don’t see what happens and they are trying to go into our trucks, they are stealing our goods," explains one lorry driver, who had searched under her lorry and in every possible space to see whether any migrants had managed to hide.

Another truck driver told Sky News that some of the migrants are armed with knives "and they're not afraid to use them", leaving the drivers powerless to get them out of their lorry’s.

Growing numbers of migrants have been waiting in Calais at the side of the motorway for several months as they attempt to sneak on to lorry’s while they are in slow-moving traffic in a hope of having a better life in the UK.

Natalie Chapman from the FTA told LBC radio that this situation was "a perfect storm" with the mix of strikes, closures and tailbacks.

"When you combine that with the current crisis we're having with migrants trying to get on board vehicles, it's caused some real issues for drivers," Chapman said. "I think some drivers certainly the other side of the Channel have spent a very disturbed night of sleep really just keeping one eye open to see who's trying to get on board their vehicle."

In a bid to ease the fears of British lorry drivers the immigration minister, James Brokenshire, has said that more resources would be put in place to screen lorries when they arrive in Dover. There will also be an increase of French police officials in Calais.
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