Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Road Haulage Drivers Now Face Death Whilst Moving Cross Channel Freight

What Will it Take to Police This Properly?
Shipping News Feature
FRANCE – UK – Sometimes a picture paints a thousand words. Here we see the result of the continuing aggression toward road haulage drivers entering the Port of Calais just as we hear the views of a prominent MP who visited the port recently to witness the mayhem for himself. At the end of a week which saw six more people injured as French riot police were forced to use tear gas to stop migrants from climbing aboard UK-bound trucks Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Freight Transport, Rob Flello MP commented:

“Despite Eurotunnel now becoming a fortress, the access roads have become like a virtual war zone, unsafe for motorists and professional drivers. If Calais is to survive as the most economically viable and convenient crossing for freight traffic between the UK and mainland Europe, this situation cannot be allowed to continue.

“The UK and French governments must get to the heart of the issue to establish safety on the streets of Calais and maintain this vital freight route. I will be raising this at the highest levels within government and also proposing some further mitigation measures that both Eurotunnel and the Port of Calais can take based on my recent experiences”.

The ongoing violence has led several hauliers in the UK and abroad to consider ceasing cross Channel operations, particularly when they can not only suffer from thousands of pounds worth of damage to equipment and cargo but are possibly facing thousands more in fines should a migrant successfully stowaway only to be discovered later.

Last week we wrote of the 24/7 Hotline initiated by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) which did not receive the enthusiastic welcome from some inward bound drivers one might have expected. Several commented that if migrants were content to ignore the batons and pepper sprays of the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité a UK telephone line wouldn’t deter them. The point of course is that every call received adds weight to the RHA’s case for more protection. The RHA chief executive Richard Burnett observed:

“Despite the implementation of a specific riot police unit based at Calais, the situation needs more ‘on the ground’ control. We are pleased that the mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart has reiterated our call for the deployment of the military to secure Calais and its environs, but we are still waiting for this call to be acted upon.

“During the Summer I visited Calais and the refugee camps on a couple of occasions and the desperation and determination of migrants to reach the UK, regardless of any thought for anyone else was quite staggering. Now, with the appalling conditions in the camps and the weather deteriorating on a daily basis, the situation is getting worse. We have just received photographic evidence of an HGV that has had a steel bar thrown through the windscreen.

“This has obviously been thrown from one of the bridges on the port approach roads. Had this been a UK-registered truck and therefore right-hand drive, the driver would have suffered severe injuries and may have lost his life. The ensuing chaos that an incident such as this causes gives migrants ample time to board trucks that have been left with no alternative to slow down or stop.

“The migrants clearly see it as their right to attempt entry to the UK, regardless of inconvenience, danger or risk to others. Surely, it is also the right for hauliers to go perform their jobs unhindered and in safety. As things stand right now, UK bound hauliers are just sitting ducks.”

Photo: Courtesy of the RHA – Thank God this was Left Hand Drive!