The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) has today, 25th of February, pledged its full support for the action that the driver of a HGV operator in the UK is taking after receiving a £10,000 fine for detection of five refugees in his trailer.
The driver in question has been involved in the haulage industry for 42 years and has had no major issue with the authorities throughout that extensive time period. However, the driver was recently transiting the Port of Calais, where he had undergone and passed a ‘heartbeat’ check by the French custom authorities, when he was asked to allow a physical check by customs officials from the UK Border Force agency. Upon this inspection, five clandestine entrants were found on-board the vehicle.
The HGV driver was subsequently fined £10,000 for the detection of these five clandestine entrants by the UK Border Force, despite having undertaken all appropriate precautions via a clandestine entry truck and trailer check before departure, and passing the ‘heartbeat check’ administered by the French customs authorities, all in a movement of less than 500 yards. Such a scenario, states the IRHA, only serves to highlight the complete failure on behalf of the authorities to deal with the migrant crisis in Calais.
Commenting on the matter, President of the IRHA Ms Verona Murphy stated “The IRHA has been continuously highlighting the complete lack of a coherent approach to safeguard HGV drivers when transiting the Port of Calais. The current level of support and protection afforded to haulage operators utilising the port in Calais is nothing short of abysmal. Nobody is assuming responsibility to the point that HGV drivers are not safe when utilising Calais. Why should a driver pay such an exorbitant fine when he is innocent and has been passed by the French authorities and given the all clear into a secure area that is clearly not secure”.
The case of the UK HGV driver detected with five clandestine entrants, the IRHA says, is a perfect case in point of how HGV haulage operators and their drivers are being required to act as border agents. The association also states that with the on-going efforts to move migrants from the ‘jungle’ in Calais, there is a very real fear within the transport sector that the limited policing that does currently exist at ground level will be completely withdrawn.
Ms Murphy continued: “While the current focus is to remove the numerous thousands of people from the ‘jungle’ into more suitable accommodation, members are concerned that HGVs and their drivers will be left even further exposed to intimidation and attacks from clandestine entrants in the surrounding area, as it is well publicised the migrants do not want housing but to be able to travel to the UK”.
The IRHA is continuing its representations at numerous levels on this current crisis facing the sector but it says unless decisive and swift action is taken to safeguard HGV drivers transiting the Port of Calais, it is only a matter of time before a driver is killed through the course of carrying out their duties.
For further comment, please contact IRHA President Verona Murphy on 087 253 2720