Calais chaos ‘farcical’, say hauliers

Calais chaos ‘farcical’, say hauliers

The haulage industry is being set up for a Brexit fall of “catastrophic” proportions, the Road Haulage Association has warned following major disruptions around the Port of Calais this week where French customs officials have been working to rule, demanding more pay and resources ahead of Brexit.

The Road Haulage Association said it is deeply concerned at the “complete and utter lack of clarity” with regards to border crossing process to the European mainland and beyond.

RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett said: “It is patently clear that government has lost its way. There are some momentous decisions to be made both in the run up to Brexit and beyond. Yet tens of thousands of UK hauliers responsible for keeping the supply chain between the UK and the rest of Europe are still in the dark. Because of government ineptitude they are simply not ready.”

The RHA was keen to stress that this isn’t just about trucks but “the economy and the millions of UK and European businesses that rely on an effective supply chain”. 

RHA points to the music industry to illustrate, an industry worth millions and totally dependent on a smooth-running transport operation. A venue with a capacity of, say 30,000, needs to be booked months or even years in advance. A delay of just six hours in the transport arrangements could easily mean the cancellation of the venue and the knock-on effects such as ticket sales, personnel costs etc. will be disastrous.

A similar example is that of Formula 1 racing. The very nature and success of the sport is based on split second timing. A racing team may need over 20 trucks to transport the cars and technical equipment needed for each race. If only 14 arrive on time then it will be a disaster, and again the jobs of the many thousands of people employed in the sector will be put at risk.

Twelve months ago, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling went on record as saying: “We will maintain a free-flowing border at Dover - we will not impose checks in the port. We don't check lorries now - we're not going to be checking lorries in Dover in the future. The only reason we would have queues at the border is if we put in place restrictions that created those queues - we are not going to do that."

“This is at odds with the reality of the situation,” continued Richard Burnett. “It’s misleading. If the French are going check both inbound and outbound trucks the timing of the supply chain into the UK will be severely affected.

“The whole situation has turned into a farce as is being clearly demonstrated in Calais right now. And, through no fault of its own the industry on which the economies on both sides of the Channel rely so heavily is being set up for a fall of catastrophic proportions.”