Sunday, July 24, 2016

Fourteen Hour Delays for Cross Channel Travellers

Tourists and Freight Drivers Warned of Continuing Chaos
Shipping News Feature
UK – FRANCE – The horrendous delays being suffered by those transiting from the Port of Dover for France via RoRo cross Channel ferry services on this, the busiest weekend of the year, has been laid principally at the feet of French authorities. Motorists have been subjected to delays of up to 8 hours as a lack of French border control officials at the port caused huge queues to develop. At one stage there were only three officials manning the seven booths available, whilst only one was checking the passage of dozens of coaches, with each taking up to 40 minutes to pass through security. A port spokesman said:

“We have been experiencing an exceptional security situation at French border controls situated within the Port of Dover. French border authorities have been operating at a heightened level of security. However, the French border control booths have been seriously understaffed overnight with only three booths available for tourists out of a potential seven.

“The Port of Dover, which has no authority over French border operations, raised concerns over French manning levels with the UK government earlier this week and the government, in turn, raised the issue with its French counterparts. The current wait remains lengthy and passengers should contact ferry operators for information, consider delaying their departure, and ensure they have plenty of water and food with them if deciding to travel.”

France and Britain have reciprocal arrangements to install staff within their neighbour’s ports, the intention being to speed the transit of travellers. The current delays are expected to last into Monday with drivers arriving early for ferries on Friday struggling in the heat having to wait as long as 14 hours before being cleared for exit. At the time of writing road delays exceeded 4 hours with 2-3 hours further wait time in the port despite British border control staff being brought in to assist their French counterparts in searching vehicles.

The situation has arisen because of a ‘Triple Whammy’, the busiest weekend of the year for cross Channel traffic, heightened security in the light of the Nice and other attacks and the shortage of French staff. Police organised water deliveries by helicopter to drivers stranded in the queues on the A20 and motorists and freight drivers are advised to monitor the Port website, their ferry operator, local radio stations and internet traffic reports to enable them to assess the situation.

Photo: Finally in sight of the checkpoints drivers queue to enter the Port of Dover.