The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is calling on the French government to take urgent action after a van driver was killed when migrants barricaded the A16 near Calais early on Tuesday.
The van hit stationary trucks that had been forced to stop at a roadblock of trees and rubble and burst into flames, killing the driver instantly. FTA EU Affairs Manager Chris Yarsley said the association had been warning of such a tragedy for years and the French authorities must do more to keep drivers safe.
“This has brought the issue of migrants targeting drivers in Calais to the fore once again. FTA warned two years ago that their actions would lead to a death and it is now imperative that the French government takes action to control the situation and ensure the safety of drivers travelling to and from the port.
“Major roads around Calais must be effectively policed to prevent migrants creating these dangerous road blocks. Authorities must do more to detain migrants and move them away from the area. The situation for our members improved after the Jungle camp was cleared at the end of last year but we have had reports that problems are returning to the area. Indeed, several rest stops have been closed to truck drivers because of issues with migrants,” he said.
In March this year FTA called on the French authorities to provide more secure parking for HGVs after motorway operator Sanefannounced that one rest area on the A16 and three on the A26 would stay shut until the end of June. Truck driver Tony Henderson from FTA member Blair Transport in Belfast revealed his firm had introduced a 50-mile ‘no stopping’ zone around Calais because of the increased risk.
Mr Yarsley said: “Driver safety is paramount and the French government needs to step up patrols on the major routes and move on migrants who are camped at the side of the road. This tragic incident demonstrates the risks to drivers and other road users, including day trippers and tourists. This death was wholly preventable and we must ensure that no-one else dies as a result of the dangerous actions of migrants on the roads.”
Local estimates say around 700 migrants have returned to the Calais area since the camp was dismantled and FTA continues to encourage its members to sign up to the Border Force civil penalty accreditation scheme which offers information and advice about preventing migrant incursions.