Chaos in Calais: lorry drivers block motorways in ‘operation escargot’ protest

Chaos in Calais: lorry drivers block motorways in 'operation escargot' protest

British holidaymakers could face chaos in Calais this morning as French farmers and lorry drivers block major autoroutes as part of a protest against the town’s migrant camp.

The ‘operation escargot’ convoy is following the A16 towards Calais from Dunkirk and Boulogne. It will deliberately drive slow in a bid to build up congestion – and a human chain could be formed across the road.

The demonstration – which is against the French government’s refusal to close the ‘jungle’ camp – is also threatening a blockade close to the Channel Tunnel.

As part of her visit to Kent last week, the mayor of Calais backed the protest but said it could result in ‘chaos’ for British travellers.

Meeting Kent business leaders in Ashford, Natacha Bouchart said: “There might be chaos and disorder on Monday. This is for a good cause. We want things to change.

“There is chaos every day and every night. We want the French government to take its responsibilities and put an end to this particularly difficult time we are facing.”

Criminal gangs are reportedly adopting new methods to smuggle migrants into the UK – including throwing items at cars to try to make them crash.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) is advising truck drivers to find alternative routes across the Channel if possible.

“It seems certain that traffic crossing from the UK will find it almost impossible to leave the Port as access to the A16 is denied,” explained RHA chief executive Richard Burnett.

“The inevitable repercussions of this will surely mean that the authorities on this side of the Channel will have no alternative but to deploy Operation Stack. This will bring yet further misery to hauliers bound for mainland Europe and of course for the people and businesses of Kent.”

While lorry drivers are concerned about the safety risks posed by the Calais camp, farmers are said to be angry at the destruction of crops caused by the migrant camp.

The size of the camp has been steadily getting bigger since a large area was cleared in February.

Burnett added: “While we understand the reason for the action, we cannot condone it. The knock-on effects for hauliers, Kent and those returning from their holidays on the Continent will also be in it ‘for the long haul’ but certainly not as a matter of choice.”

Web editor at Drives a 1983 Austin Metro. Tweet me @MR_AndrewBrady.

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