Thursday, March 31, 2016

Freight Forwarders and Road Haulage Contractors Must Give Their Views on Migrants

Time to Complete Government Survey Before Major Crisis Conference
Shipping News Feature
UK – FRANCE – We recently published details of the government consultation regarding the review of penalties to be imposed on drivers and their employers when found to have illegal migrants aboard their vehicles. The consultation is open until 18 April and focuses on the type of steps hauliers should take to secure their vehicles most effectively and stakeholders, including road haulage contractors and freight forwarding companies, are urged to put their views forward before the expiration date.

The consultation closes just a few days before a major conference on the subject the ‘Pan-European Freight Security and the Migrant Crisis’ which will hear expert speakers including James Brokenshire the Immigration Minister (and the lead author of the aforementioned consultation) plus various other heavy hitters including the Chief Harbour Master of Dunkirk, the MD of the Port of Zeebrugge and a bevy of industry, police and political figures, discuss the entire situation.

One of the speakers will be Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Richard Burnett whose organisation has been lobbying ministers and stressing that the continuing disruption to cross-channel trade at Calais is costing haulage operators dearly in financial terms and also means that drivers are at risk of serious injury as migrants try to board their vehicles.

Despite the number of cases in which penalties have been imposed almost arbitrarily on hauliers who can have had no idea they were carrying stowaways until their vehicles were opened it seems hauliers are not the only ones who are suffering financially from the situation. Responding to a recent Parliamentary question, Department for Business Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe stated:

“The department has not paid or committed to pay compensation to any company involved in cross-channel traffic because of losses or additional costs due to the number of migrants in the Calais area. In the 2015 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer committed £250 million to finding a long term solution to Operation Stack.”

With the possibility that the consultation under way may result in an increase in penalties it is surely in the freight sectors interest for as many stakeholders as possible respond to the governments questions. This particularly in light of one of the opening paragraphs, ‘what more industry can do to mitigate the risk of illegal migrant abuse’.To put your views simply click on the consultation link in the first paragraph.