The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) has called for Government support and intervention as the cris is at Calais deepens.
Lives and livelihoods in the Irish Haulage sector, which is worth over €4 billion to the Irish exchequer and is responsible for 50,000 jobs, are in serious jeopardy as a result of the escalating migrant crisis in Calais, according to the IRHA.
Verona Murphy, President of the IRHA explained how increased desperation from migrants is putting drivers at serious risk and is further exacerbating the difficulties faced travelling through Calais.
“Migrants are increasingly desperate and some are becoming more militant. Drivers’ lives are being threatened unless they allow migrants to stow away in their trailers. They are expected to police the situation themselves to ensure they are not unknowingly smuggling migrants. The situation is out of control.”
“This is a real and serious crisis that is affecting hundreds of drivers from haulage companies in Ireland who are facing; fines for breaching their tachograph, thousands of euro fines for unknowingly smuggling migrants, huge financial loss for damaged trucks and having to write off goods and the knock-on effect to our insurance premiums but for the IRHA, the safety of our drivers is of paramount importance.”
The IRHA is calling on the Government to intervene by implementing Article 14 which governs the tachograph rule (the internal system that records a drivers’ driving time) so that drivers are not forced to park-up for hours like “sitting ducks” in Calais having made little progress on their journey due to hours of delays.
Driver Graham Lowndes of TTS Transport was held at knife-point in Calais in the early hours of Monday morning when he was forced to stop for a rest period despite only have covered just a 4 mile driving distance in almost 6 hours.
“This is an international crisis but the lives and livelihoods of drivers from Ireland are at risk which is why the Irish Government needs to take action to protect and allow us to go about our work without being put at risk and being unfairly penalised for trying to get to safety.
“I was put in an extremely vulnerable situation in Calais which I’m lucky to have escaped with my life and I, like all other drivers have the additional stress of self-policing or face huge fines. The Government needs to exercise some common sense to implement emergency measures as the situation is only getting worse by the day.”
Compliance with the tachograph rule is becoming increasingly more difficult for drivers due to Operation STACK (an emergency measure to queue HGVs waiting to reach the port on the M20 in England) as drivers are being forced to move their trucks when they should be technically stopped for a rest period.
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