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P&O’s decision to sack 800 workers and suspend services across the Dover Straits without warning has highlighted how vulnerable the UK's major supply route across the Channel is to being cut off by “boardrooms on the other side of the world”, RHA warned this week.

The call comes as P&O revealed that plans to relaunch one of its three ferries docked at Dover today (22 March) are on hold, amid reports the company is struggling to find enough agency workers to crew the ships.

Speaking to Radio Kent this week, Graham Pask, RHA south east area manager, said: “The Dover Straits is the life blood of the UK and it appears that in a boardroom across the other side of the world, someone made the decision to cut it off overnight and for British businesses that is a major concern and the government needs to look at this and maybe step in, in some way.”

Referring to P&O’s parent company DP World, which is headquartered in Dubai, Pask added: “We cannot be held to ransom by a company across the world on something so important as the Dover Straits crossing, as this country needs the Dover Straits crossing and it needs to flow.”

Asked how the flow of traffic will be affected by the suspension of P&O suspending its service, Pask warned that there will be increasing delays as traffic builds up through the week to its usual Thursday peak.

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He added: “The peak period will be a problem. How bad that gets is hard to say – I think it could get tricky for the next few weeks.”

However he said that some European hauliers may delay coming to the UK to avoid hold ups at the ports whilst others “may be moving down the coast to other orts to spread the load.”

Pask’s call came as DFDS announced the relaunch of its unaccompanied freight service between Sheerness and Calais.

The M/V Botnia Seaways, which has a carrying capacity of 11,530 gross tonnage, will be used to operate a daily service via the English Channel.

The vessel can carry up to 120 trailers per crossing, and by relying on London Medway’s accessibility DFDS said it could provide flexibility for customers to drop and collect trailers.