Truck drivers still being attacked on daily basis in Calais, say RHA

Truck drivers are still facing attacks on a daily basis in Calais, despite the closure of the ‘Jungle’ camp in October 2016, the chief executive of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has said.

There are reportedly five or six attacks per day on HGV by people traffickers trying to get others into the UK, although the true number could be higher as some drivers don’t report incidents.

About 700 migrants are living rough in the area where the Jungle once stood, according to estimates by charities.

Talking on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC2, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said that although the problem may have dropped below the gaze of the media it hasn’t gone away.

“Drivers are still being attacked on a daily basis,” he said. “People traffickers are rife and they will attempt to stop trucks by whatever means possible. We get regular reports of traffickers throwing rocks, putting boulders in the road – even lying in the road so that the vehicles have no alternative but to stop.

“This is a humanitarian issue and neither the French nor the British governments are doing enough. It’s also a humanitarian issue for the drivers who just want to do their job in safety but they still face violence and intimidation on a daily basis. It’s not what they signed up for.

“The British government needs to be influencing its French counterparts. The British government at the moment is like a revolving door in terms of the number of immigration ministers we have worked with during the past few years. It’s difficult to build relationships, to influence, to make the necessary changes.

“Also from our perspective, there is intelligence and evidence to show that the heartbeat monitors at the French border are being switched off allowing migrants to pass through. Why? Because it’s easier and because they don’t want to deal with the issue.

“That’s just not good enough. The issue must be dealt with, the migrants must be processed quickly and the RHA will be doing all it possibly can to ensure that the summer of 2018 doesn’t bring continued misery for truckers.”

The February issue of Truck & Driver has a report from a driver on what it is really like to travel through Calais. In shops now. To subscribe to Truck & Driver, click here

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