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‘Never again’ says IRU as Kent blockade starts to ease

[ December 24, 2020   //   ]

The International Road Transport Union is calling on governments to agree clear protocols to avoid a repetition of the current scenes in Kent after the French government closed its borders to truck drivers from the UK.

With trucks are now moving slowly through a gridlocked Dover towards France, the current backlog of up to 10,000 trucks is expected to take at least one week to clear at the current rate – but there are many thousands of other trucks stuck elsewhere in the UK, waiting for the green light to approach Dover.

IRS says that all countries in Europe should relax, as the UK has partially done, driving bans and restrictions over Christmas and New Year to allow drivers to get home safely, and to allow supply chains to return to normal as quickly as possible.

Information on the ground continues to be a serious issue, and hundreds of trucks have run out of fuel, and it is clear that overall contingency plans, including road traffic management, has failed drivers and supply chains and needs to be revised for the future.

Covid testing has also proven to be ineffective, as drivers are largely isolated in their vehicles, and only leads to huge delays without any benefit to managing the pandemic.

IRU secretary general Umberto de Pretto said: “Haulage companies across Europe continue to report confused, afraid and upset drivers on the ground. Drivers should not be forced to spend Christmas in a parking lot. We need to get them home to their families as quickly as possible.”

“This is a post-Brexit dress rehearsal for this border: a trade deal, or no trade deal, will not change this. It`s unacceptable how drivers are being treated by the authorities, with limited food and sanitation, and insufficient guidance and understanding.”.

He added that despite their bleak Christmas Eve, drivers are however thanking the individuals who are endeavouring to support them on the ground, including charity workers and volunteers from the local community.

IRU says that drivers and transport companies have already faced dozens of border issues and blockades through the pandemic, for example the 60km long truck queues seen on some internal EU borders, or other countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas completely closing their borders to trucks for extended periods of time.

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