The Road Haulage Association has demanded a step-change in Government action to restore order at Calais, latest reports state there are over 7000 illegal migrants in the Port area, all increasingly determined to reach the UK by whatever means possible.
“The crisis in Calais may have gone from the front pages but the issue has not gone away”, said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett. "The threat to drivers and to international haulage services is once again on the increase. RHA members and staff have seen intimidation of drivers and attacks on vehicles first-hand. It is mostly focussed on the Channel Tunnel but has also affected the ferries using the Port. The continued intimidation is inflicting long-term damage on the road haulage sector in the UK with more and more drivers refusing to do the work. Smaller hauliers are finding it increasingly difficult to stay in the market as alternative routes are being block booked in advance by larger, regular users. The impact on these companies and their customers should be of real concern to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.
“Calais is now reported to have the largest police presence in France except for Paris and now the Mayor of Calais is also calling on the French to deploy the Army. We proposed this almost six months ago and we welcome her support.
“Disruption to trade is still widespread. Last night an RHA member had his vehicle’s air lines cut by a frustrated migrant who was discovered to be "axle riding". And for the fourth successive night, Eurotunnel has had no alternative but to suspend normal operations to clear incursions. Its Chairman and Chief Executive put the responsibility on the French Government.
"The RHA constantly advises its members on truck security but the authorities are letting our members down very badly. Delays and damage are now becoming the norm and this represents a cost that the UK supply chain simply cannot accept. The UK may be ‘open for business’ but there are continuing problems getting through the front door.
“It is abundantly clear to the RHA and to our members that the measures taken so far, while welcome, are inadequate and we need to understand what more can be done to protect our drivers, our international haulage businesses and the UK economy as a whole."
Rob Flello, MP for Stoke South and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary group on Freight Transport, added: "The government promised months ago to sort out this situation and instead the threat to professional drivers, their lorries and of course the refugees themselves is in danger of becoming permanent. We cannot carry on as if this crisis will simply go away of its own accord – clearly, it won’t.”