- 20 January 2021
- Transport / Logistics Services
The UK Border Force needs to up its game to speed up customs checks and UK/EU border sites need better driver welfare arrangements according to Speedy Freight.
Speedy Freight specialises in urgent and sensitive freight transport deliveries. Many of its drivers have had unnecessary hold-ups at border sites such as Ebbsfleet in Kent even while having exactly the right cross-border paperwork. These drivers have encountered problems such as:
– No food facilities at sites where the drivers can end up waiting several hours or overnight
– No proper washing facilities at those sites
– Unhygienic portable toilets at those sites with no proper plumbing
In one case a driver was held up for 48 hours at Sevington thanks to a processing problem by UK Border Force with the facilities described above. Agents lacked training and experience to resolve an issue that stemmed from government processing as opposed to errors on the part of Speedy Freight.
According to Shona Brown, Speedy Freight’s network service manager and head of its Brexit team, “While these delays are yet to impact the general public, that will change if driver welfare is not addressed. At the moment, the poor welfare standards for drivers is one of our biggest concerns. Aside from the obvious concern for our drivers, this has the potential to develop into a much bigger issue for supply chains up and down the country. If driver welfare continues to suffer, then more and more drivers will simply not agree to carry out jobs to and from Europe, leading to a massive resourcing issue. The quickest and easiest way to ensure that doesn’t happen is for the government to make changes to the facilities ASAP.”
The carrier has also encountered persistent technical issues at the border. In one case a franchise owner driver had to do a 300-mile round trip in order to resolve an issue with an urgent shipment of COVID testing equipment on its way to Austria. The government’s customs NCTS computer system had generated a reference number for the trailer yet the Border Force system had not recognised the number the NCTS system had generated.
Speedy Freight’s paperwork provided by the driver was all correct and in line with the government process. “When we were in the transition period, we expected border delays, but we expected that the delays would be caused by drivers or customers not filling out the correct paperwork. When we, and our clients, have submitted all the correct information and are still met with delays, it can get frustrating and costly, in terms of both time and money,” said Brown.