Some degree of normality is returning to the Port of Calais but the RHA still urges driver vigilance

Some degree of normality is returning to the Port of Calais but the RHA still urges driver vigilance

Britain's Road Haulage Association (RHA) is cautiously welcoming the return of some operators to the Port of Calais in northern France following the demolition of the nearby migrant camp, but is warning drivers to continue their vigilance.

Extraordinary scenes have filled television screens during the recent past of migrants desperate to cross the English Channel, while threats to lorry drivers have included their vehicles being slashed with knives and missiles thrown in a bid to slow traffic down and allow refugees to clandestinely clamber aboard.

The stand-off led to a vast influx of Police swamping the Port and even some military becoming involved, while the issue rapidly soared up the agenda of aspiring candidates for next year's French Presidential elections.

Bulldozing of the jungle has led to vital cross-Channel ferry and Tunnel routes for international lorry traffic appearing to return to normal, notes the RHA, but the association nonetheless warns the situation may change if increased security measures at the Port are not maintained.  

Operators who switched away from the Dover Straits are cautiously re-appraising their decision and some are starting to return. "It's good to be able to say something really positive about Calais," said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett.

"We will of course continue to monitor the situation closely. The key is to ensure the jungle camp is not allowed to be re-established. The problems over the past two years have been awful for everyone – including the migrants - desperate to get to the UK by whatever means possible.  

"However, on a recent fact-finding visit to the Port, the overall concern of those UK-bound HGV drivers we spoke to was the current situation, although very welcome, may well be short-lived."  

Despite the respite, the RHA still highlighted the problem of migrants trying to get into UK-bound trucks when they park for breaks.

"Hauliers and drivers must remain vigilant and plan ahead," added Burnett. "The RHA strongly urges firms involved in UK-Continental work to sign up to the UK Border Force (UKBF) Code of Practice and Accreditation Scheme.

"While they are not perfect, they are appropriate. The RHA has been working with UKBF on gathering intelligence on the migrants and the criminal gangs who often direct them and we will continue to do so."

Presidential candidate, Francois Fillon, who last night (27 November) secured the Republican nomination for the position next year, has previously called for closer cooperation with the British government and in particular, to take into account the wishes of the people of Calais.