Traffic disruption expected amid Calais migrant crisis protest

Traffic disruption expected amid Calais migrant crisis protest
A blockade set up by French lorry drivers demanding the closure of a migrant camp has caused severe disruption on the roads around the port of Calais.

British motorists heading across the Channel are likely to be affected by the protest, which began early this morning on the A16 road that runs along the edge of Calais.

Lorry drivers have said they are “in it for the long haul” and have been joined by shopkeepers, police, unionists and farmers in calls for the 'jungle camp' to be cleared.

Pressure has been growing on the French authorities to tackle the problem, which has seen the camp swell in size in recent months, and talks took place between protest organisers and French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Friday.

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Despite efforts to reduce numbers by dismantling the slum's southern section earlier this year, up to 9,000 migrants from countries including Sudan, Syria and Eritrea are living there in squalor.

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People traffickers are reported to be going to extreme lengths in Calais in their efforts to reach the UK.

It has been reported that vehicles have been torched, petrol bombs thrown and trees being cut down to block roads, there have even been instances of lorry drivers being threatened with chainsaws and machetes - despite calls as long ago as a year ago for security measures to be improved around Calais to help keep drivers safe, by the Road Haulage Association.

Gangs are paid thousands of pounds by vulnerable people to get them to Calais, from where some are smuggled to Britain to work to pay off huge debts to people traffickers.

People-traffickers have even been deliberately causing car crashes on the roads to the port by hurling large objects at cars and then stowing away on lorries caught up in the traffic jams that pile up behind.

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Richard Burnett, chief executive of RHA, said that the protest was likely to have a big impact on drivers on both sides of the Channel.

“It seems certain that traffic crossing from the UK will find it almost impossible to leave the port as access to the A16 is denied.

“The inevitable repercussions of this will surely mean that the authorities on this side of the Channel will have no alternative but to deploy Operation Stack. This will bring yet further misery to hauliers bound for mainland Europe and of course for the people and businesses of Kent.”

Copyright Press Association 2016. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.