APPG chairman calls for more protection for freight drivers in Calais
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has reported that at least six people were injured last week as French riot police were forced to use tear gas to stop migrants from climbing aboard UK-bound trucks.
According to the French press, 800 migrants occupied roads leading to the port. Rocks were thrown at vehicles giving the drivers no alternative but to slow down and run the risk of further threat and intimidation.
The chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Freight Transport, Rob Flello MP, who also visited Calais recently, said: “Despite Eurotunnel now becoming a fortress, the access roads have become like a virtual war zone, unsafe for motorists and professional drivers.
“If Calais is to survive as the most economically viable and convenient crossing for freight traffic between the UK and mainland Europe, this situation cannot be allowed to continue. The UK and French governments must get to the heart of the issue to establish safety on the streets of Calais and maintain this vital freight route.
“I will be raising this at the highest levels within government and also proposing some further mitigation measures that both Eurotunnel and the Port of Calais can take based on my recent experiences.”
The RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, added: “Despite the implementation of a specific riot police unit based at Calais, the situation needs more ‘on the ground’ control. We are pleased that the mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart has reiterated our call for the deployment of the military to secure Calais and its environs, but we are still waiting for this call to be acted upon.
“During the Summer I visited Calais and the refugee camps on a couple of occasions and the desperation and determination of migrants to reach the UK, regardless of any thought for anyone else was quite staggering. Now, with the appalling conditions in the camps and the weather deteriorating on a daily basis, the situation is getting worse.
“We have just received photographic evidence of an HGV that has had a steel bar thrown through the windscreen. This has obviously been thrown from one of the bridges on the port approach roads. Had this been a UK-registered truck and therefore right-hand drive, the driver would have suffered severe injuries and may have lost his life.
“The ensuing chaos that an incident such as this causes gives migrants ample time to board trucks that have been left with no alternative to slow down or stop.
“The migrants clearly see it as their right to attempt entry to the UK, regardless of inconvenience, danger or risk to others. Surely, it is also the right for hauliers to go perform their jobs unhindered and in safety. As things stand right now, UK-bound hauliers are just sitting ducks.”
Posted on: December 1st 2015