Lorries queue at Folkestone as French customs strike continues

Queues of lorries have been seen at the Eurotunnel entrance in Kent as French customs officials continue to strike.

A backlog of freight lorries stretched back as far as the M20 on Friday afternoon, with traffic crawling towards Folkestone.

Traffic jams began to build up in Calais earlier this week as customs officers reportedly worked to rule, carrying out tighter checks on lorries heading for the Channel Tunnel and ferry port.

Lorries queue to enter the Eurotunnel site in Folkestone, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Lorries queue to enter the Eurotunnel site in Folkestone, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The action began on Monday in a bid to improve pay and staff numbers ahead of Brexit.

P&O ferries tweeted: “Please be advised that our Freight traffic is being delayed through the Port due to action by Customs officers.”

Rhenus Logistics UK posted: “The strikes reported at the port of Calais at the beginning of this week are on-going as French Customs are “working to rule”.

“This is causing delays of around 3 hours leaving Calais. Trucks entering the port are still unaffected.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has said it is “extremely worried” the tailbacks could be putting the lives and livelihoods of lorry drivers at risk, with stationary lorries becoming a “sitting target for migrants”.

#POCALAIS UPDATE: Please be advised that our Freight traffic is being delayed through the Port due to action by Customs officers.

— P&O Ferries Freight (@POFerriesFR8) March 8, 2019

It said tens of thousands of hauliers were in the dark due to “complete and utter lack of clarity” on the border processes post-Brexit.

Chief executive Richard Burnett said earlier this week: “Since Brexit discussions began, we have been voicing our concerns that the number of customs agents currently employed will be insufficient to tackle the new procedures.

“The French union officials’ claim that the action is aimed at ‘showing what will happen after Brexit’ is totally unacceptable.

“Many of our members caught up in the queues are bearing the brunt of this action.

Traffic is crawling slowly toward the Eurotunnel entrance (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Traffic is crawling slowly toward the Eurotunnel entrance (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“They will be stuck with no facilities and will inevitably suffer financial losses as a result of delayed deliveries – particularly those carrying perishable goods.

“The head of French customs has insisted that France will be ready for Brexit on 29 March, and that such queues would not form.

“But with only 17 working days left until the UK leaves the EU, I do not share his optimism.

“This is an intolerable situation and if not resolved, there’s a real danger that it could be the shape of things to come.

“We continue our call for clarity over border crossing procedures but still nothing is forthcoming.”