After Calais who would want to drive a truck?

Founder and Managing Director | Returnloads.net

The migrant problem that truck drivers bound for the UK are facing in Calais is nothing new and has been a problem for 15 years.  With that being said there are now a combination of things that have elevated the problem to a whole new level.

Reports are now saying that 10,000 migrants could try and make their way in to the UK via Calais by the end of August.

The situation has worsened since the MyFerryLink strike, security at the French port is now stretched to breaking point and the migrants are out of control.  Many truck drivers in Calais have spotted migrant gangs armed with weapons which leaves them fearing for their safety.

Over the last couple of nights there have been reports of over 1,500 migrants storming the tunnel which now looks to be a regular nightly occurrence.  It is because of this and reported deaths that the French and British are preparing to take action.

The French have sent reinforcements to the area in the way of 120 riot police, but is this enough?  120 additional police officers aren’t going to make much of an impact in my eyes.  The border control clearly isn’t working and I agree with the RHA that military intervention is a must.

With 50 – 150 new migrants arriving in Calais every day the situation could get a lot worse very quickly.

This is a huge concern for the UK haulage operators that need to use Calais regularly.  We have spoken to a number of members on Returnloads.net and the consensus seems to be the same and that being something needs to be done immediately.

Like a number of UK haulage operators, many Returnloads.net members have taken precaution measures to ensure their drivers are not put at risk.  Whether that be not to park anywhere near Calais, avoiding the port altogether and re-routing through Belgium or even in some cases refusing to continue with European haulage.

As we know the Home Secretary recently announced that they will be introducing a new ‘Secure Zone’ in Calais to help protect vulnerable truck drivers.  The secure parking zone will only be large enough for 230 trucks, which in the current light doesn’t seem like enough as during the strikes we have seen queues of up to 1,500 vehicles.

The secure zone in itself is a brilliant idea as it removes hauliers from the motorway queues which seem to be the main place where these migrants are attempting to gain access in to their trucks.

The only way I can see the secure zone working is if security is better than what has been seen throughout the region until now, if migrants can get into the tunnel then they will be able to get into the secure zone.

In my opinion the security for the secure zone needs to be operated by both the French and the British, this will ensure the secure zone is protected to the intended level and will help our truck drivers feel safe.

The main issue with the secure zone, however, is that it isn’t going to be ready until the autumn which sparks the question what are hauliers supposed to do until then?  With more and more migrants cascading on Calais every day the risks of travelling through the port are increasing.

If more security and safety measures are not put in to place soon I can see the number of hauliers avoiding Calais increasing and haulage rates going up as a result.

The Government recently released figures showing £6.6 million had been generated from fines to hauliers who have been caught with migrants in their vehicles.  This figure shows just how lacking the port security in Calais actually is and the money should to be re-invested to make it more difficult for migrants to break in to the vehicles and ultimately in to the UK. 

The money could be invested in more secure zone areas, go towards improving current security methods or even on new technologies which could alert drivers to a possible breach.

The longer it takes for a real solution to the migrant problems in Calais the more negative an impact it will have on UK businesses, not to mention the damage it is doing to the image of the truck driver job at a time when we need to recruit truck drivers more than ever before.

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