Contingency plans for Dover traffic 'not working' and better driver facilities needed, hauliers warn

Tue 12 Apr 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

lorries queued

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has urged the government to improve facilities for lorry drivers carrying goods over the Channel or risk damaging the UK’s reputation and economy.

With ongoing delays at Dover, where lorries have faced waits of more than 24 hours, the RHA has called for a permanent parking site to allow drivers to wait for traffic to ease, rather than “inching forward” every hour.

‘Not good enough’

RHA spokesman Paul Mummery told the IOE&IT Daily Update today (12 April): “From a business perspective time is money so more images of long queues snaking out of Channel ports will make many firms nervous about moving goods across the Dover Strait. This can’t be good for UK supply chains.”

He added that while a series of “unconnected factors” had come all at once to cause the delays, the government’s contingency plans for managing the traffic – including the implementation of Operation Brock – were “not working”.

“Commercial vehicle drivers are left for hours on end without access to toilets, refreshments and rest facilities, and it’s just not good enough,” said. “This is why we’re calling for a permanent contingency site adjacent to the M20 to better manage traffic flows and offer drivers the facilities they deserve.”

Reluctance

According to the FT, EU truckers – who drive 85% of the lorries that cross the Channel – are becoming reluctant to take work in the UK because of increasingly frequent day-long traffic jams, as well as poor washing and toilet facilities.

The past week has seen serious disruption around Dover and Folkestone due to a combination of the P&O Ferries fallout, problems with the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, bad weather and Easter holiday traffic.

Perishable problem

Motor Transport reports that queues saw lorry drivers trapped for up to 24 hours on the M20, where Operation Brock is still in operation.

Food producers have warned that perishable goods were losing their value while stuck in the congestion at Dover.

However, environment minister George Eustice has said establishing a priority lane for lorries carrying such goods was “not realistic”.

Slow border

The summer could see “cripplingly slow” queues at UK airports due to a shortage of border staff, the Daily Mail reports.

The head of the aviation recruitment network told the BBC’s Today programme that it could take a year for recruitment problems in the sector to settle down.

‘Understaffed’

Lucy Morton, general secretary of the immigration services union, told the BBC that Border Force had faced recruitment problems for some time and was “catastrophically understaffed” as it takes up to a year to train staff.

“It’s a buyer’s market and for the first time in living memory Border Force is no longer attracting enough candidates to fill the vacancies,” she said.

Relocation

She said that staff from ports and airports in the South East were being used to supplement rosters handling the growing number of small boats migrating across the Channel.

Border staff are also being drafted in from as far away as Scotland to backfill positions at Heathrow, with paid incentives and overtime.

“It’s a very expensive proposition that resourcing it properly in the first place would have avoided,” she said.