Freight News, Sea

Calais chaos makes unwelcome return

[ October 23, 2015   //   ]

The Freight Transport Association is warning that migrants are once again putting besieging trucks passing through the port of Calais, with drivers being threatened by organised gangs of migrants throwing stones and trying to get aboard trucks.
Its members have reported a worsening situation as delays at the Eurotunnel terminal push trucks towards the ferry port, where around 6,000 migrants are now living in a makeshift camp.
Driver Euan Flemming, who works for Belfast firm Blair Transport and has been using the Dover-Calais route for 10 years, said police and security guards were nowhere to be seen in the slow crawl to the port on the morning of 21 October. He said migrants were surrounding trucks and dropping from bridges onto the roofs of curtain-sided vehicles.
He added: “It made big news in the summer because holidaymakers were affected but the situation is worse than ever. I’m sitting here in a curtain-sided truck and there are thousands of migrants all around – I might as well roll out the red carpet.
“The situation improved in August and September but this week it has gone downhill. The migrants have mobilised themselves – it is shockingly bad right now.”
Mr Flemming said his colleagues had in the previous week witnessed an invasion of the secure lorry compound at the port, with “running riots” as migrants tried to board lorries.
FTA’s international affairs manager, Donald Armour, said that he was dismayed to learn that for the fourth night in a row migrants had successfully managed to break through the security fencing at the Eurotunnel compound and past the other measures put in place since the summer. He said: “You have to ask ‘who is advising Eurotunnel what to do?”
FTA wants more robust measures by the French authorities to keep drivers safe and to ensure that Eurotunnel can function properly, without the dangers and serious disruption our members have had to endure this week.”
Frequent invasions of the Eurotunnel compound by migrants in recent days have caused long delays for freight on both sides of the Channel, with the Traffic Action Plan being put in place in Dover to deal with the huge numbers of queueing lorries.
Mr Armour said he welcomed recent news that 500 additional French police are to be deployed to strengthen the Tunnel’s defences “but clearly this isn’t sufficient to cope with the relentless nightly attacks. We are very concerned that drivers are still being put at risk as they travel through Pas de Calais back to the ports.”
FTA pressed the French government for action in June and advised its members not to refuel or take rest stops near Calais, with many were taking detours of around 100 miles to avoid the port altogether. French Eurotunnel drivers wrote an open letter earlier this month calling for action following the death of 13 migrants on trains.
FTA also wrote to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Transport and the Mayor of Calais and met with Immigration Minister James Brokenshire to discuss the issue.

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