FTA is pressing the French government to take action on the migrant situation in Calais, which has been described as “like a warzone” by some of its members.
FTA Deputy Chief Executive James Hookham spoke to Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire about drivers’ latest experiences at the port, where migrant numbers have swelled from 200 to around 3,000 and violent confrontations have been reported.
Mr Hookham also highlighted the detrimental effect on the UK supply chain because of lengthy delays to cross the Channel and loads that are being rejected by customers because of contamination when migrants break on board.
The Association wrote to the Mayor of Calais asking for her support in lobbying the French and British governments and the European Commission to find a solution to the problem, but has yet to receive a response.
Mr Hookham said: “I was provided with a full briefing by the Minister on latest developments, including the installation of new security fencing and additional checks being carried out to keep migrants away from vehicles and to defend the UK border against clandestine entry.
“FTA was briefed on the measures the British government is taking to protect truck drivers transiting Calais and the diplomatic moves to engage the French government and other EU member states in responding to the desperate and increasingly dangerous tactics being employed by people traffickers to gain access to vehicles for clandestine entry into Britain.”
FTA members have been advising drivers not to refuel or take rest stops near Calais and many are taking detours of around 100 miles to avoid the port altogether because of the escalating problems.
Mr Hookham added: “James Brokenshire’s re-appointment as Immigration Minister is welcome as he brings a clear understanding of the issues and is listening to industry’s concerns. We are pressing for more visible commitment from the French government to criminal activities on French soil and their responsibilities for the protection of British drivers whilst in their jurisdiction.
“We are expecting further work with the Home Office and Border Agency on specific topics in the coming weeks. This is an issue that requires committed and proactive attention by Government, hauliers and their customers.”