French drivers slam UK Calais fines as "a racket"

French Drivers Slam UK Calais Fines As "a Racket"

Increasing threat to lorry drivers near Calais has provoked hauliers into day of action

French road hauliers are denouncing as “a racket” the ability of British immigration officers to impose severe fines on lorry drivers found with stowaway migrants, as the refugee situation in the northern French port of Calais continues to worsen. Some high profile French politicians this week called for such immigration powers to be repatriated back to the UK as ever-more desperate migrants attempt to reach English shores, but this has fuelled fears of a Mediterranean-style exodus with Dover acting as a new magnet across the Channel. To drive their point home, a broad coalition of actors is mobilising forces for a coordinated day of action next Monday (5 September), in protest at what they view is the rapidly deteriorating security situation at the Port of Calais.

Regular nightly incursions by migrants desperate to reach the UK across the English Channel by stowing away on board lorries bound for Britain via sea or tunnel crossing, have provoked the French Federation Nationale des Transports Routiers (FNTR or National Federation of Road Hauliers) to issue a clarion call to demonstrate. It appears a tipping point has been reached on both sides of the Channel as a growing litany of grievances by worried lorry drivers from the FNTR and the UK Freight Transport and Road Haulage Associations (FTA, RHA) starts to turn from a trickle into a flood.

“We want urgent measures, not fine words,” FNTR secretary general, Sebastian Rivera told just-auto from Arras in northern France. “The number of migrants has gone to 10,000. Every night for six months the ring road around Calais has been [breached] by migrants erecting barriers, entering vehicles, threatening drivers.

“There was a vehicle set on fire a few weeks ago, violence is increasing. We have had enough of not being heard. What we find abhorrent is English authorities can impose fines on French territory French drivers risk a fine of GBP2,000 (US$2,600) if they discover a migrant. We want an end to these fines they are a racket.”

The FNTR secretary general concedes next Monday’s action, which will also see Port of Calais workers, local businesses and farmers demonstrate, will hugely inconvenience hauliers and the public, but insists the move will ‘absolutely’ make politicians sit up and take notice.

“We can’t tolerate this continues,” added Rivera. “We have written letters, [held] meetings, we have arrived at the end of our tether. We will have a lorry driver who is seriously injured or killed I am not exaggerating.

“We want urgent measures not just fine words.”

Specifically, the FNTR is calling for the jungle at Calais to be dismantled, migrant flows into the town to be controlled, the complete security of the ringroad and A16 motorway on the approach to the port and tunnel and an end to British fines should stowaways be discovered. The UK Road Haulage Association said Monday’s day of action would start at 06:30 and last until 19:00 that evening, although it was unclear whether this would see lorry drivers operating a go-slow on the Calais approaches or parking their vehicles up.

“We have asked members to get back to us with updates or feedback,” an RHA spokesman told just-auto. “These guys are struggling, drivers are constantly being attacked, lives are at risk and migrants’ lives as well because they go way too close to trucks.”

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *