UK freight transport chiefs have written to British Prime Minister, David Cameron, requesting an “urgent meeting” to discus the huge disruption at Calais, which has seen thousands of migrants attempt to board lorries bound for Britain.
The nightly incursions are starting to affect the automotive supply chain, as far stricter controls at Calais kick in, while the Road Haulage Association is also calling for French military forces to be deployed to the key Northern French port.
Thousands of lorries have cumulatively been parked in what is effectively Europe’s largest truck park on the English M20 motorway, as Police enact the well-rehearsed Operation Stack, caused by massive numbers of political and economic migrants attempting to board vehicles in Calais.
The refugees – many fleeing civil war and political chaos in the near East and North Africa – are desperately trying to reach the UK in a bid to secure what they see as a better economic life and are using freight trucks as a way to cross the English Channel.
“[The Prime Minister letter] was signed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), Road Haulage Association, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation (ICLT) and Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE),” FTA manager international affairs department, Donald Armour told just-auto from the English county of Kent, the front line of where most lorry disruption is occurring.
“It is another brick in the foundation [of] responses in the last seven days. It is part of the effort to help keep the issue in the headlines. We welcome additional resources are going to be put into Northern France and around Calais.
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“All our guys are trying to do is deliver. Our lorry drivers are not paid to be customs or integration officers.”
Details of the letter to the British Prime Minister were revealed by RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett, who is requesting the meeting addresses the effect the Calais crisis is having on the UK haulage industry and the overall economy.
The RHA chief acknowledges measures to increase security at Eurotunnel, but is adamant a more comprehensive solution is needed to restore the free movement of lorries through the Calais area.
“We need the same level of commitment to protecting truck drivers, their vehicles and loads as we are seeing towards protecting the valuable Channel Tunnel infrastructure at Coquelles.,” said Burnett. We are not seeing that and we are not hearing it from the Prime Minister.
“We recognise the scale and complexity of the migrant crisis and the humanitarian issue involved. However, that is a separate issue from the urgent need to allow trucks to move freely and without intimidation.”
“Without witnessing the mayhem at Calais first hand, neither the Prime Minister, nor his advisers can fully grasp the severity of the situation. I have therefore issued an invitation to David Cameron to travel with him across the Channel to see for himself the appalling conditions that drivers are facing.”
The dire situation is being compounded by striking ferry workers angry at a possible takeover of their company, with protestors burning tyres near the Port of Calais.