Freight News, Road

FTA protests against closure of Calais parking

[ March 10, 2017   //   ]

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has protested against the closure of four rest areas on the A16 and A26 and is calling onthe French authorities to provide more safe lorry parking around Calais.

It says that an announcement in March by motorway operator Sanef, drastically reduces the number of stops where UK-bound drivers can take their rest on their way to and from the port. Sanef has confirmed that one rest area on the A16 at Aire Bois de la Commanderie and three on the A26 will stay shut until 30 June, due to problems with migrants returning to the Calais area after the closure of the notorious Jungle camp in 2016.

FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham said: “Closing these rest areas means that drivers will be forced to find alternative unsecured stopping points, which could put them at risk of migrants boarding their vehicles, potentially causing damage to their trucks, writing off their loads and leading to heavy and unnecessary fines for their employers. Drivers could even be at risk of attack from particularly desperate individuals.”

According to reports by drivers, security on the route did improve after the French Government cleared the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp, in October 2016 and built a new wall along the port approach road. However, one driver was reported as saying that there are signs that migrants are returning to the port in significant numbers, such as sleeping bags left by the side of the road

Mr Hookham said: “We advise our members to sign up to the Border Force Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme which offers some protection if migrants are found on board vehicles, provided they have carried out all the recommended checks. But without safe places to park in the vicinity of Calais, drivers who may have been travelling long distances to reach the area are sitting targets for the migrants. It’s vital that the French authorities provide alternative facilities while these parking areas are closed.”

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) also denounced the closure of secure overnight truck parking areas between Brussels and the Channel coast. Although apparently a bid to tackle the migrants crisis, the move was counter-productive, it said.

The IRU argues that the real issue is a lack of police resources and lack of funding for properly secured parking areas. Truck drivers will be forced to park in places where safety is not guaranteed, increasing the risk of attacks on drivers and cargo crime. It could also leave drivers without the necessary rest facilities, such as toilets and restaurants, and may impact drivers’ ability to comply with driving and rest time rules.

Marc Billiet, who leads IRU’s work on road freight transport in the EU, said: “Closing motorway service areas to trucks overnight will not solve the problem of stowaways. The migrants will simply move to the areas where drivers are forced to stop, off the motorway. This could seriously threaten driver safety and bring disruption and dangers to unsecured, ill-equipped parking areas or neighbourhoods.”




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