Local drivers caught up in Calais chaos

Migrants trying to board UK bound lorries on the main road into Calais ferry port. Photo credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Migrants trying to board UK bound lorries on the main road into Calais ferry port. Photo credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Drivers from a Ballymena transport company have been caught up in the chaos at Calais following the no-warning strike on Tuesday by French ferry workers, which halted Channel Tunnel services.

Speaking to The Times on Thursday morning a spokesperson for Blair International Transport said the problem encountered by their drivers was two-fold - “a blocked port and blocked motorways”.

He said: “At one stage five of our guys were trapped on the quay at Calais - because of the backlog they couldn’t get on the boats.

“When we heard the news we put the brakes on (other drivers) and stopped 40 miles outside Calais.

“It was a big impact for us, affecting about a third of the fleet both ways. Some of our drivers were also stuck 25km outside Dover trying to get across.

“Basically, it was taking 24 hours to do a crossing that would normally take about five, making it a 19 hour delay per driver.”

As for the problem of migrants attempting to get on trucks in their desperation to get access to the UK, he said “that’s the norm”.

“Our drivers are always aware. There’s no sense in saying it was worse yesterday (Wednesday) or the day before. People not in that situation don’t realise how bad it is - the strike action just made it a bit worse,” he said.

At 3.50am (local time) on Tuesday, employees of a French ferry company went on strike in protest against potential job losses.

While the strike ended later on Tuesday, travellers and lorry drivers were still facing long delays on Thursday with migrants continuing to attempt to board UK-bound lorries.