FTA warns of violence after Calais blockade

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

The FTA said the blockade would cause other traffic to come to a stand still
The FTA said the blockade would cause other traffic to come to a stand still

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Today’s blockade of the main motorway into Calais has made drivers a sitting target, warned the Freight Transport Association (FTA), whose membership includes lorry drivers of food and drink manufacturers.

The roadblock, organised as a protest calling for the closure of Calais’ migrant camp, involved at least 60 trucks and more than 100 farm vehicles completely blocking the A16 route in and out of Calais. The FTA said the action would bring other traffic to a standstill, leaving drivers at risk of attacks from migrants trying to board their vehicles to get into the UK.

The FTA has called for its members to avoid the area and find an alternative route to get to the UK. It also said there needed to be adequate safety measures in place to ensure drivers were safe.

FTA EU affairs manager Chris Yarsley said: “While FTA does not support this kind of direct action, we do share the concerns of those protesting that something needs to be done to solve the ongoing migrant crisis in Calais.

‘Increased violence’

“Having visited the area last week, I have witnessed the increased violence and understand the danger that drivers face on a daily basis.”

The blockade was planned by French transport operators, local businesses and agricultural workers from the area.

David Sangard, President of Calais-based lorry company Carpentier Transport & Logistiqiue, said the violence in the area had cost his business more than €250,000 last year.

Sangard said: “It is regrettable that we have to resort to such action, but we have been pleading with the French authorities to find a solution, including dismantling the migrant camp.

‘The last straw’

“This is the last straw. It is the equivalent of pressing the nuclear red button in order to be heard by the authorities.”

Drivers had reported violence from the migrant camp, including a night of violence on July 29​, which resulted in one lorry driver being threatened with a chainsaw. The FTA said the violence had worsened since the UK’s Brexit vote.

FTA’s five-­point plan to avoid Calais transport chaos

  1. Move migrant camp away from the motorway and Eurotunnel facility to deter migrants from attempting to board commercial vehicles and trains
  2. Secure the Port of Calais and Eurotunnel facility against incursion by migrants and to complete the secure parking zone in the port area for use by operators
  3. Highlight to the British and French governments the need to maintain the juxtaposed border controls and invest in police and security arrangements to guarantee that drivers’ rights to safe passage through the port are respected
  4. Support registration of migrants and processing of asylum claims by the French authorities to legitimise and control those camped out around Calais
  5. Declare the port of Calais and Eurotunnel facility as off-limits to any industrial protests

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