FTA calls for more protection after driver attacked in Calais

Truck drivers working in Calais need extra protection after Brexit has made migrants more desperate to reach the UK before tighter border controls are brought in, according to the Freight Transport Association.

After a recent night of violence in a refugee camp in Calais saw a truck driver threatened with a chainsaw as rioting migrants set fire to barricades to prevent trucks passing, Chris Yarsley, the FTA’s EU affairs manager, said: “These drivers are just trying to do their job, moving goods from Europe to the UK through the country’s busiest port. Attacks like this are unacceptable and more needs to be done to protect them as they go about their work.”

The boss of the Belgian driver attacked in Calais has urged the authorities to act, claiming that his drivers ‘are threatened every night’ and warning that ‘there will be deaths’. Numbers in the refugee camp, nicknamed the ‘Jungle’, have swelled to over 7,300 according to a recent census by Help Refugees. 

Yarsley added: “Relocating the camp away from the port would prevent the relentless attacks on commercial vehicles passing close by and allow our members to carry out their job without fear of attack or fines for unwittingly carrying migrants on their trucks.

 “FTA recognises the pressures on governments on both sides of the channel in terms of domestic security. However, the juxtaposed border controls and security investments must continue to help guarantee the security of UK-bound drivers and vehicles who simply wish to perform their job.”

The FTA has backed a Home Affairs Select Committee report, which allows UK border controls to operate on French soil, to protect the UK against terrorism and criminal gangs. The Migration Crisis report says maintaining the agreement “must be a priority for the UK government”.

Moving the border controls from Calais to Dover could be detrimental and would cause major congestion, according to the FTA, as the UK border does not have the required infrastructure to carry out thorough searches on vehicles passing through.

“A lot of bilateral cooperation and investment has already taken place - it would be against both nations’ interests to remove what is already in place and functioning,” Yarsley added. “Improving what is there is the key - not taking it away.”

In a letter written to the Road Haulage Association, Dan Cook, operations director of Europa Road, says: “I want to highlight the growing number of issues we are seeing in and around Calais, in order to put some further energy behind your petitions to governments. In the last two weeks alone, we have had four incidents that personally I find gravely concerning.

“Drivers face real danger and it is vital it is that we safeguard our drivers in what are frightening and intimidating situations. As a result we have seen delays to transit, damage and write off of clients products and drivers refusing to make the journey via Calais.

“More needs to be done by the combined cross-border authorities to better manage the situation, before more serious harm comes to individuals or drivers. 

“I urge the RHA to press hard to both the UK and French government to ensure a safer passage to trucks transiting between the continent and UK.”