‘Scandalous’: French union boss launches scathing attack on Macron over border closure
Dover: Lorries fill roads as France travel ban continues
Sebastien Rivera, general secretary of the Pays De Calais branch of the National Federation of Road Transport (FNTR) said it was “scandalous” that the French Ministry of Transport had left drivers with so little guidance about what was happening – and asked why lorries were still being permitted to travel in the other direction, from France to the UK. Mr Rivera was speaking after the imposition of the ban in response to the emergence of a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 in the UK, which has prompted numerous countries to ban flights from Britain.
He told Express.co.uk: “I find this decision nonsensical.
“If there is a real health hazard, why have you left the border open in the direction France to GB.
“Today several thousand HGVs find themselves stranded in the UK in unworthy conditions.”
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Mr Rivera explained: “After Sunday evening’s decision to block the border for 48 hours in the GB direction to France, most French companies have decided not to send their drivers to the GB given the risk of not being able to return for Christmas.
“On the other hand, there are still more than 500 French drivers according to our estimates who were already in the UK and who are currently blocked.”
Mr Rivera added: “The Ministry of Transport does not give us a concrete procedure to ensure the repatriation of our drivers.
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“A PCR test costs around £300 and it takes 48 hours for an appointment and 48 hours for the result….
“No logistics are organised – it’s scandalous to leave our drivers in the dark.”
Without a rapid solution, drivers faced spending a miserable Christmas “on the side of abandoned roads” in the UK, Mr Rivera said.
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Materially speaking the costs were enormous, he added, putting the loss per truck per day at €1,000, meaning roughly £500,000 a day in total.
Mr Rivera said he also feared the episode was just a foretaste of what his drivers could expect after the end of the year, especially in the event of the UK and the EU failing to strike a post-Brexit trade deal.
He said: “With Brexit we fear again long waits with the new customs and security procedures to be respected.”
Meanwhile Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged hauliers hoping to head to France not to travel to Kent, warning they “may become stuck for longer”.
He said: “A reminder to all hauliers that the French have not re-opened the border to France.
“Please do not travel to Kent as you will be unable to cross and may become stuck for longer.”
Speaking to Sky News today, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We speak to our colleagues in France constantly on a range of issues and that work has been underway over the last 24 hours and we’ll continue today. “We’ll see what materialises today.
“We’re working to get a resolution. It’s in both our interests to ensure that we have flow.”
France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune has said Britain and France would announce a deal to restart freight by tomorrow, the BBC has reported.
“We speak to our colleagues in France constantly on a range of issues and that work has been underway over the last 24 hours and we’ll continue today,” British Home Secretary Priti Patel
Asked if there would be an agreement on Tuesday, Patel said: “We’re working to get a resolution. It’s in both our interests to ensure that we have flow.”
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