Lorry ‘slashed’, as Calais transport crisis deepens

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

The Calais transport crisis is intensifying, warns the FTA
The Calais transport crisis is intensifying, warns the FTA

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The migrant threat to freight lorries at Calais is intensifying, with lorry roofs recently being slashed by stowaways trying to escape from queuing vehicles, warns the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The FTA repeated its calls for urgent action to remedy the crisis, after one driver described how hundreds of migrants were marched from trucks in Calais.

Driver Tony Henderson reported his lorry’s lock and seal had been replaced, in a supposedly a secure lorry area 70 miles from Calais, to enable 10 migrants to hide inside. The intervention was only spotted at the French port when police spotted the seal had been tampered with.

Police arrested 10 men, thought to be of Iranian origin, inside the vehicle.

The Belfast-based Blair Transport driver said: “This was organised people smuggling – they knew what they were doing. The lock had been carefully cut behind the seal so it wasn’t visible and the lock and seal were then replaced.

‘It was just mayhem’

“At Calais I saw at least 200 migrants taken from trucks in three hours – it’s the worst I’ve ever seen it was just mayhem. They were being marched out in blocks. The French police were doing a great job, and were working flat out. But where does it all stop?”

The FTA’s EU affairs manager Chris Yarsley complained it was unacceptable for FTA members to work in such extreme conditions each day.

“No other industry would be expected to put up with these kind of situations on a daily basis,” he said.

‘Threats to personal safety’

“Drivers are putting themselves at risk just trying to do their job and deliver the goods. As well as threats to their personal safety, they face fines of up to £2,000 per migrant found in their trucks.

“Calais handles 17% of all the UK’s imports and exports – it’s a vitally important trade route – and this can't be allowed to continue. Governments need to work together to tackle the problem at ground level.”

Genuine asylum seekers should be properly processed and economic migrants repatriated to combat the growing trade in people trafficking, said the FTA boss.

Earlier this month a driver at the port was threatened with a chainsaw​ and lorry carrying fruit and vegetables was torched.

Meanwhile, the FTA has welcomed the launch of a consultation for plans to build a major new lorry area in Kent to tackle disruption caused by Operation Stack.

The Highways England consultation, on plans to build a lorry park at Stanford West designed to keep traffic on the M20 moving during disruption to cross-channel services, will last until September 23. 

FTA has long-campaigned for the new lorry area to avoid a repeat of last summer’s chaos on Kent’s roads.  Operation Stack was implemented for a total of 32 days last summer and was estimated to cost the UK freight industry £750,000 per day.


FTA urges action to remedy Calais transport crisis

  • The migrant settlement, known as The Jungle Camp, in Calais to be moved away from the port
  • Border Force and the government to improve safety and security for its international members
  • Hauliers encouraged to join Border Force’s Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme, offering protection if stowaways are discovered on trucks

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