Truck drivers going through the Port of Calais this summer could face attack and the risk of people trying to board their lorry as they try to make it into the UK, the chief executive of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has warned.
Richard Burnett made this warning after a fact-finding trip to Calais on 23-24 March with journalists from a national newspaper, where he witnessed numerous attempts by migrants to enter lorries that were bound for the UK. He said he fears that drivers could end up hurt – or worse – in an attack.
“Within an hour of arriving at the Port we were witnessing horrifying attacks on drivers – their only crime being to park up for a quick comfort stop on the last leg towards the Port,” Burnett said. “We watched one driver leave his cab and within seconds, a gang of migrants attempted to enter his truck. They succeeded and it was only because one of our team alerted the driver upon his return that they were removed. Despite this, many more migrants appeared; all intent on trying their luck. We were also attacked because we were capturing the event as it unfolded on camera and on our iPhones. It was clear that traffickers were leading the attacks. Each time a truck appeared, so did migrants. Only because we alerted the drivers did they fail in their attempts to get on board.
“I am really worried for the lives of these drivers – on this occasion he got away – others will not be so lucky.
Burnett added that this attack happened in broad daylight, little more than 40 miles from the Port. “It’s obvious that it was not an isolated incident. Last October we warned that dismantling the ‘Jungle’ would not make the problem disappear. It’s very clear that our worries are already becoming a reality and as the weather improves migrants are returning in ever increasing numbers; all with a single goal – to reach the UK by whatever means possible.
“We cannot see a repeat of the past two summers. Last year we heard of many drivers that were refusing to make the Dover/Calais crossing because of the risks involved and let’s face it, who can blame them? But there’s now a real danger that it won’t just be the lives of innocent hauliers that are being put at risk, the effect on the UK haulage industry in particular and the economy on both sides of the Channel will become untenable. And with Brexit just around the corner, that’s the last thing that anyone needs.”
Burnett added that the RHA is calling for urgent meetings with the French authorities ahead of the elections in that country in April and May to establish that the Le Touquet agreement will remain in place. “If the border moves to this side of the Channel it will quite simply create an open door for thousands of illegal migrants,” he concluded.
Photo by EPA/REX/Shutterstock
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