Tensions rose in the English port of Dover on Wednesday, following a partial travel ban imposed by France to contain a highly infectious variant of coronavirus it angered thousands of truck drivers stranded before Christmas.
Dozens of truckers trying to reach their homes on the mainland today tried to break through the officers guarding the port. Hundreds left their vehicles and marched to the entrance of the port, booing and whistling. There were a few shouts in English: “Open the border”, “We just want to go home” and “Fuck you, Boris!”, according to the television images shown.
Also There have been several fights between drivers, upset that they will not be able to return home to their families before Christmas and a small number of police officers. Some drivers showed police apparently negative COVID-19 test results, but one officer said many of them were “fake test sheets.”
Paris and London agreed on Tuesday night that drivers with negative test results they could board the ferries to Calais on Wednesday after much of the world closed its borders to Britain to contain the new mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2.
A British minister has said that the armed forces will start testing drivers, but warned that it would take time to clean up Britain’s most important trade route for food just a few days before the country leaves European Union.
Truck queues formed on the highway to Eurotunnel, the underwater tunnel that connects Great Britain to France and Dover, in Southeast Kent County, while thousands more parked at neighboring Manston Airport, a few kilometers away, where the tests are performed.
Despite the fact that the authorities have recommended that transport companies stop sending goods to France until the roads are cleared, trucks continued to arrive in collapsed parking lots, where some drivers were forced to sleep in the last two nights.
According to official figures provided by British Home Secretary Priti Patel, about 650 trucks were stopped on the highway, While others 870 are in the nearby car parks.
Local authorities in the county Kenthowever, they made sure that there are at least 2,200 parked in a temporary unit, while another 632 are blocked on the highway.
Christmas on the highway
Mariano Buitrago, said a carrier heading to the Eurotunnel entrance on Sunday night Efe what the the police closed the M20 motorway, linking London to the south-east of England shortly after France decreed the closure of its borders.
Buitrago told how other drivers were immobilized in ditches, where unable to buy food or wash, and ensures that the amount of trucks accumulated can take several days to clear, even after the border is reopened.
The driver, who was expected to arrive in Madrid on Wednesday, canceled the Christmas he intended to spend with his family. “It’s been a long time since we’ve ruled out Christmas Eve,” regret.
He also complained that neither the police nor other authorities provided them with information. “They treat us like we’re robots”, said.
10,000 trucks blocked
The Road Transport Association (RHA), which estimated that it exists up to 10,000 trucks stuck in Kent, said the situation was in chaos because the test system was not yet ready.
“We have very, very upset truckers in Dover this morning,” said to BBC TV Rod McKenzie, RHA Policy Director. “They are tired, they are frustrated, they desperately want to get home for Christmas.”
Military and health personnel work together to administer COVID-19 tests at the airport. The tests are delivered to drivers in their vehicles for self-administration under supervision. However, the International Road Transport Union has warned that even a trying to last 30 minutes would be “absolutely a disaster.”
Usually between 7,500 and 8,500 trucks travel through the port daily, but volumes have reached over 10,000 recently.
Part of the extra traffic was the result of the Christmas request, But many were in the country to deliver goods to spare parts companies before the UK finally leaves the EU on December 31, a move that should cause further disruption in January, when a customs border will enter into force. fill.
The British Retail Consortium, an industry lobby group, has warned that until truck delays and supply chains are removed, there may be problems with the availability of fresh produce.
Logistics companies have also warned that many European drivers have already refused to come to the UK in the new year, when they will have to go through several customs formalities, and the need to obtain a COVID-19 test will exacerbate the situation. , increase in transport prices.
Many drivers believe that they are pawns in a political confrontation between the UK and the EU, as trade talks end.
“They don’t give us food, they don’t give us drinks, they don’t give us hygiene, they don’t give us anything,” said Sergio Robles, a 41-year-old Spanish truck driver.
“I think and I think that what is happening now is not due to the coronavirus or anything else, it is due to Brexit, domestic policy or something like that.”
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