Port of Dover (RHA)

It is impossible to stop the migrant problem at Calais, only a co-ordinated effort to address the issue at source will bring respite to hauliers crossing The Channel, Eurotunnel has said.

Responding to an incident last week, triggered by the first of the strikes by French ferry workers that have crippled the port, a spokesman for the company told Motortransport.co.uk, “we have a programme running at the moment to continuously reinforce [our security measures] and are working closely with the British and French government”.

With Calais effectively closed down, migrants target the Channel Tunnel and gained access to the Le Shuttle freight train rushing on board to stowaway on HGVs loaded on board and in a supposedly secure area.

Operators including Brian Yeardley Continental – using the service to avoid the chaos and delays of the port in recent months – were contacted by Kent Police and told to release any stowaways UK side where the authorities would deal with them.

“The reality is that we, and the surrounding region, are under constant pressure and we’re working hard to alleviate this for our customers,” said the Eurotunnel spokesman, adding that incidents of migrants making it past tunnel security remained extremely rare.

“At the moment we are dealing with the symptoms on a daily basis and that approach is going nowhere. The real solution is to stop the traffickers bringing these people in from Africa and the Middle East.

“The trafficking routes need to be broken up and the EU needs to work to improve the living conditions in the countries theses people are leaving,” said the spokesman.

Since this time, French ferry workers, striking over job losses, have again bought Calais to a standstill and also disrupted Eurotunnel services.

The RHA, which recently called for more information to be made available to hauliers making the crossing, was on hand at the port  yesterday to gain a first-hand perspective.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett, said of his experience:  “This action will have a massive effect on the UK economy as a whole and is putting the livelihood and lives of hundreds of hauliers at risk.”

“The time for talking around the table has passed. The UK and French governments must acknowledge their responsibilities to all Port of Calais users move in and act. If this means deployment of the armed forces then so be it. Let’s get this desperate mess sorted out now and talk about a long term solution afterwards.”

The strike action has since triggered Operation Stack in Kent, which has been escalated up to a rare phase three status, which sees trucks marked up on both sides of the M20.

“The scale of the current situation has to be seen to be believed,” Burnett said.  “The only word to describe what is happening there is absolute mayhem.

“There appears to be very little, if any, security and demonstrators have closed both the Eurostar and Le Shuttle tunnels by setting fire to tyres. This is not only causing disruption on a massive scale, it is inevitably putting many lives at risk.

“The knock-on effects of this are already taking effect. Passengers are stranded, HGV’s are stacking up way beyond Calais and its environs and right now, the stark reality is that for UK hauliers, there appears to be no end in sight”.