Lorries waiting up to 30 hours to cross into Europe

Shellfish and meat exporters have said their businesses are suffering from the delays in crossing the Channel thanks to the suspension of P&O ferry services.

Lorries carrying perishable goods have had to wait up to 30 hours on the M20 in Kent on a 23 mile stretch of motorway. There is nothing in the way of toilets or welfare provision while they are in the queues, and haulage businesses are having to pay driver wages while they are sat in the queue.

A toxic combination of the P&O Ferries suspension of services, Easter holiday traffic and problems with the customs IT system have created a ‘perfect storm’ for haulage companies.

As a result, the British Meat Processors Association said some of its members have had goods waiting 24 hours to cross into Europe.

Waiting in the queues do not count as ‘rest breaks’ for the drivers who are being forced to do more than their legally required hours and then need to take a break once in France.

Roy White, a director for hauliers Whites Transport Services, said the situation is costing his company £700 per lorry. “It’s a nightmare. It took one of our trucks last night 10 hours to get across. It’s definitely putting an extra day on the shelf life. It’s not going off, but it’s putting an extra day on the shelf life.

“It’s a massive knock-on effect with delays on deliveries and that means delays on connections. We had a driver sat in the queue all night last night to catch the shuttle from Folkestone to Calais.

“As soon as he got off he couldn’t go anywhere he had to go on his break. Obviously there is extra wages and you are losing revenue with the truck.”

A spokesperson for the multi-agency Kent Resilience Forum: “For safety reasons it is not possible to provide welfare on a live motorway where traffic is moving, even if slowly, but when cross-Channel freight queues were at a standstill food and water was provided.

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