Calais situation deteriorating as RHA demands French military action

The situation around the ro-ro terminal at Calais continues to be difficult with trucks encountering frequent interference from migrants attempting to enter Britain.

The situation has now become so bad that the head of the UK Road Haulage Association (RHA), Richard Burnett, has written to the French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, asking “to deploy the Military to restore law and order to the Calais area”.

There have been numerous reports of obstructions being erected on the roads leading into the port and migrants attempting to force their way onto vehicles. Press reports today (June 01, 2017) describe a ‘burning barricade’ being temporarily positioned on the motorway before the police intervened to remove it. There are also reports of truck drivers being attacked.

It appears that the situation may be returning to the situation of two years ago when there was significant disorder in the area as migrants attempted to force their way into areas around the ferry terminal and channel tunnel.  

This became a significant problem for the truck drivers and companies moving through the tunnel and using the ro-ro ferries. Not only were freight and vehicles damaged but substantial fines were levied on any truck operator found to have any illegal immigrant on a vehicle, even if the operator or driver was unaware of their presence.

At one point the congestion caused by the on-running disturbance began to interfere with the ability to move freight through the tunnel, although the strikes by French dockworkers and ferry staff at the same time was a greater source of problems.  

In 2016 the French government mobilised the Gendarmerie to move the migrant camps that had grown-up around the port and this eased the situation. Now, however, the suggestion is that illegal immigrants have returned and are once more causing interruptions and threats to traffic.

It appears that the underlying problem of law and order relating to the migrant question has not been resolved in France and there is little to suggest that there will not be continuing episodes of road freight operations being interfered with. This will continue to be a substantial problem for the road sector in both the UK and those operators who serve the British market.

Source: Transport Intelligence, June 01, 2017

Author: Thomas Cullen