The Road Hauliers Association (RHA), which represents British freight drivers, has called on the French military to step up its security operation at Calais Port amid fears that it is only a matter of time before an HGV driver is killed by migrants. They say that current security measures are a mere “drop in the ocean” in the face of thousands of migrants determined to use any means to hitch a ride into Britain.
Following a recent visit to the area in which he saw for himself the “warzone” conditions drivers are facing, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett has renewed his calls on the government to intercede with the French authorities and persuade them to step up the security operation. In a statement, he said:
“Despite the fact that there are now approximately 1,300 security operatives being deployed at Calais (CRS riot police and French gendarmerie), we are deeply concerned that this is still not enough to handle the ever increasing number of migrants who are, quite literally, honing in on the Port to attempt the crossing from mainland Europe to the UK on the back of a truck.
“The 1,300 security staff currently deployed represent no more than a drop in the ocean compared to the ever increasing number of migrants, intent on causing absolute mayhem in their relentless efforts to make their way to the UK. These staff will be working on a shift basis and therefore only 300-400 will be working at any one time. We are concerned that the British authorities are not doing enough to tackle this issue and they must push their French counterparts much harder to act now!”
December is the busiest time of the year for hauliers, thanks to the Christmas effect. Moreover, 90 per cent of road freight coming into the UK passes through Calais, the main, and, according to Burnett “most economically viable” gateway between the UK and Europe.
“Security at Eurotunnel has been stepped up and at the moment this seems to be proving effective,” Burnett said. “The downside is that it has simply moved migrant focus to the vulnerable areas of the Port itself. In addition, migrant activity on the Port approach roads remains a massive issue and many hauliers will no longer stop within 150 miles of Calais unless absolutely necessary. This must also be addressed.”
As many as 7,000 migrants are now massed at Calais, up from a few hundred at the beginning of the year. As the numbers steadily climb, they are growing ever more brazen in their attempts to stop lorries on roads heading into the port, in order to climb aboard.
The French authorities reacted by attempting to clear the migrants from the road and ports, driving them back using tear gas, but the operations have descended into pitched battles, with migrants throwing rocks at police and lorries alike.
Commenting in November, when the battles were taking place nightly, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, the president of the Calais Port told France TV: “We are no longer dealing with nice migrants, but with troublemakers… Some lorries were attacked with iron bars.”
A Czech haulier told Breitbart London how one of his drivers narrowly avoided death when migrants flung a large wooden stake through the window of his cab, and then mobbed him in an attempt to stop his lorry. He was able to make it to the port, but security there refused to help him as he hadn’t been hurt.
Others using the route frequently have said that they are afraid to clear migrants out of their trucks despite facing fines if they are found in their load, as the migrants “all have knives.”
And last week, a lorry driver was gassed by migrants determined to stow away in his lorry. Stephen Paul Morecroft, from Merseyside told the BBC “They’ve got gas and knives and ammunition now. It’s scary out there.
“Nobody wants to know about throwing the rocks, people getting cut, the windscreens getting smashed, the curtains sliced. [Change] will only happen when somebody dies.”
Taking to Twitter at the end of November, Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart wrote: “I reiterate my call to the intervention of the army in #Calais.
“This is to ensure the safety of migrants and Calais. Delinquent migrants must be able to be identified and expelled.”
“I must stress that the security forces at Calais are doing their best. But their numbers must be increased and their activities need to be proactive – not reactive,” Mr Burnett said.
“Now is the time for the Association’s calls for deployment of the French military to contain the situation be heeded and urgently acted upon.
“Increased security will not make the problem disappear overnight, but it will certainly act as a deterrent and will surely help to prevent my worst fear from becoming a reality; that an HGV driver wishing for no more to complete his journey in safety is killed.”