The situation we saw at Dover over the Christmas period was a “national embarrassment” and “must not be repeated.”
In a letter to transport minister Richard Agnew, freight trade body Logistics UK has highlighted the failings in the government’s plans to deal with potential border disruption and has called for a review of traffic management and welfare facilities for truck drivers.
After more than a week of disruption, there’s a lot to be learned from the backlog of lorries left stranded in Dover over the Christmas period. When France temporarily closed its borders in response to the new fast-spreading coronavirus variant, the Department for Transport thought it had systems in place to deal with such a situation.
However, despite restrictions being eased on 23 December, there were reports of around 3,000 hauliers still stranded on Christmas Day.
Thousands of truck drivers were left without access to toilet facilities or food provision. This, said Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at Logistics UK, “was a national embarrassment”. She continued: “The need to rely on the generosity of the charities, businesses and local residents and the support of the Armed Forces must not be repeated.”
She pointed out that the apparent lack of concern about truck driver welfare could impact the willingness of EU hauliers to send their drivers to the UK. Something that would impact the supply chain and the quantity of food available of supermarket shelves.
With the end of Brexit transition period comes the urgent need for plans that will ensure drivers facing similar delays in 2021 are able to access the facilities they need.
De Jong explained: “From 1 January, the industry will need regular, nationwide real-time information feeds from the government on the status of all ports, combined with early insight where traffic [is] building – this will highlight where problems are likely to occur and help delays to be mitigated.”