HGV News – Dover and Calais chaos

HGV News – Dover and Calais chaos

If there is one news story to exercise the collective minds of Britain’s haulage operators, it is the situation at the Channel ports of Dover and Calais.

As if the human misery, suffering and sheer desperation of illegal migrants was not bad enough, Britain’s haulage companies and drivers appear to be sharing the disproportionate brunt of the efforts to prevent stowaways on Dover-bound vehicles.

The penalties

Bearing the brunt of what is a more or less intractable problem means the imposition of a fine on either or both of the haulage company and its driver for every individual stowaway discovered,

Some indication of the size of this problem comes in a report from the BBC on the 5th of August 2015 revealing that more than 3,000 separate fines have been imposed on haulage companies and their drivers in the last year alone.

That is a good 50% up on the number of fines issued during the previous year and represents a staggering total of more than £4 million in penalties – or the equivalent of around £2,000 for every individual illegal immigrant that is apprehended.

According to the Home Office – which is responsible for the UK Border Force – the fines are brought upon haulage companies and their drivers for failing to maintain what are considered to be “basic standards of security.

The response

The response from the industry’s representative bodies and pressure groups is that it is grossly unfair that hauliers are being penalised for the repercussions of a crisis that is none of their making and one that is almost entirely beyond their control.

Leading the criticism of the government on this score is the Road Haulage Association (RHA), which according to reports by the Chartered Institute for Logistics and Transport (CILT), accuses ministers of failing in their duty of care towards the British haulage industry.

Haulage contractors already face heavy onerous overhead costs in such items as the maintenance and servicing of their vehicle fleets, fuel, drivers’ salaries and HGV insurance. Added to these costs there is now the ongoing and seemingly unstoppable imposition of financial penalties whenever a stowaway is caught.

According to the RHA, this increase in operating costs is almost certain to have a considerable impact on the overall supply chain. The effect is likely to be one of driving up the price of goods that eventually reach the shops having negotiated the disruption and bottlenecks of transport lorries on the roads of Kent.

There is little way to prevent the increased costs of transportation being passed on to retailers and their customers.

The only advice which the RHA is able to offer haulage operators and their drivers is to forge close links of recognition by the UK Border Force in an attempt to demonstrate from the outset that all reasonable security measure are being taken within the industry to prevent stowaways getting on board.