Holiday Brits face chaos in Calais migrant protest
Thousands of families returning from their summer holidays face being trapped for hours by a blockade of French truckers in Calais. Lorry drivers are planning to block the main roads leading into the French port on Monday in protest over the increasing number of attacks from migrants living in The Jungle camp. French shop-keepers, farmers and police union officials will join truckers in a human chain to stop holidaymakers from boarding ferries.
Dubbed Operation Snail, some truckers said they would man their barricades until they receive assurances that the northern section of The Jungle will be torn down.
Roadblock: Two migrants run into the road and use traffic cones to force a Hungarian trucker to pull over. Now, French truckers are planning to block the main roads leading to the port of Calais in protest over the increasing number of attacks from those living in the Jungle camp
The blockade is likely to act as a magnet for migrants who will see queues of stationary traffic as an ideal opportunity to sneak onto vehicles bound for the UK. French police are likely to become involved in running battles with stowaways and British anarchists who have previously incited violence in the squalid camp. An extra 200 police officers have been dispatched to the area and the French army has started patrols.
Truckers are planning to block the main roads from Dunkirk and Boulogne leading into Calais from 7am on Monday. The protest is expected to causes huge tailbacks at the port and will also have a knock-on effect on drivers using the Eurotunnel. Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart, who has previously called for border controls to be moved to British soil, pledged to join the protest.
Tory MP Charlie Elphicke, who represents Dover, said the action will cause nothing other than chaos .
While I have the deepest sympathy for the people of Calais, Monday’s demonstration will achieve nothing other than chaos on the roads of France and Kent, he said.
What’s needed is real action to tackle the causes of this crisis. When asked about Ms Bouchart s involvement in the protest, he added: She is protesting against a problem of her own making. Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, added: The effects of a blockade at the port would have a massive impact on UK-bound hauliers, from an economic perspective and, more importantly, their safety will be compromised.
French riot police fired tear gas at migrants on Thursday after they attacked traffic on the road leading into the ferry port in Calais
There are fears that the truckers’ blockade will act as a magnet for migrants who will see queues of stationary traffic as an ideal opportunity to sneak onto vehicles bound for the UK
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve held meetings with French hauliers and local businesses last night in an attempt to persuade them to call off their action. In an interview with a French newspaper, Mr Cazeneuve promised to dismantle The Jungle in stages . He said he would press ahead with the greatest determination to unblock Calais .
Outlining a policy that has failed in the past, he said coaches and planes would be used to move the migrants to centres across France. Lorries drivers said they had heard such promises before and vowed to continue with their protest until a date is set for the clearance of the squalid camp. The southern section of The Jungle was demolished in March.
Despite this, the number of migrants living in the camp has more than double since then to almost 10,000. Overcrowding has sparked knife fights between Afghan and Sudanese gangs competing to get on lorries bound for Britain, with at least four stabbings this week. And migrants have resorted to increasingly desperate and hostile measures to get to the UK.
Every night they place blockades on roads to force lorries to slow down so they can jump on board. They often threaten the drivers with chainsaws, knives and bats before breaking into their trucks. On Thursday night, French police cleared 30 blockades laid out by migrants on the roads around the port.
French truckers says there have been 100,000 break-ins on lorries in Calais this year. Alain Noyelles, manager of haulage firm Deroo Transport, said: ‘I have thirty drivers who leave every day for the UK. For them their work has become hell.
There are assaults and risks of accidents and the motorway is sometimes blocked for eight or nine hours.
‘Three weeks ago 20 migrants broke into a lorry carrying glass. The damage cost us 40,000 euros. The protests are being organised by the Grand Rassemblement du Calaisis, an association representing companies and businesses in Calais.
A spokesman said: ‘What we want is a date for the razing of the north part of The Jungle. We will not move until we have a date.’
In more misery for drivers, the M20 in Kent will be closed all weekend so Highways England can remove a damaged footbridge. Last night the coast-bound carriageway shut from junction 1 to 4 and the London-bound side closed from junction 4 to 2.
Diversions are in place and it is due to reopen at 6am on Monday. There were long tailbacks after the bridge was hit by a digger being carried on a lorry during last weekend s bank Discount Holidays © holiday break. The road was reopened but the structure now has to be taken away.