The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says the French government must act quickly on its commitment to dismantle the Calais migrant camp following yesterday’s protest by truckers, farmers, local businesses and residents.
The government has agreed to remove the camp by the end of the year and meanwhile put additional police on routes surrounding the port to protect drivers who are frequently confronted by migrants trying to board their vehicles. But FTA says a firm timetable must be put in place to ensure the plan is quickly implemented to improve the situation for its members.
FTA understandsthat the organisers of yesterday’s protestare “cautiously optimistic”about the announcement but will review the situation in a couple of months and won’t rule out further action, although none is currently planned.
The French government has agreed to hold weekly meetings with local officials, police and businesses – the first of which took place this morning – to assess progress and the effectiveness of new measures, including the increased policing.
FTA Deputy Chief Executive James Hookham said: “FTA has been calling for the camp to be dismantled since problems escalated last year so this is welcome news. Calais is a vital trade route – £89 billion of UK trade passes through the port every year – and our members are experiencing unacceptable levels of violence and intimidation.
“We have been frustrated by the lamentable reaction of the French Government so far given the collapse of public order in the Calais region, and the impossible position it has put their citizens and businesses in. Only the French Government can resolve the overall problem, and we call on it to act sooner rather than later.”
Numbers in the Jungle Camp have swelled to more than 9,000 and FTA members have reported unprecedented levels of violence on roads surrounding the port. One driver described how migrants sharpened tree branches into spears to throw at truck windscreens.