Tensions are rising at the port of Dover as stranded British lorry drivers hoping to travel to France have been told by the government to avoid the area “until further notice”.
Increasingly frustrated lorry drivers scuffled with police in Dover on Wednesday morning and afternoon (December 23), with one driver lying down in front of a truck by way of protesting.
At the center of the crisis lies the new potent strand of coronavirus – dubbed the “British Virus” – which has spread panic around the globe and forced over 50 countries to close their borders to UK travelers.
According to the Department of Transport, over 5,000 lorries are currently waiting to make the short journey to France, with 3,800 at Manston airfield (15 miles north of Dover) and more than 1,200 on the M20 motorway.
However, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates that there are 8,000 to 10,000 lorries stranded in Kent and the surrounding areas.
Rod McKenzie, who is the managing director of policy and public affairs at the RHA described the situation as "chaos" with lorry drivers heading to ports thinking the borders would be open.
The British army has already intervened in the crisis by sending 170 soldiers to Dover to administer speedy Covid-19 tests on lorry drivers - known as lateral flow tests – which can reportedly return results in 30 minutes.
However, the army’s intervention – which is primarily for propaganda purposes – has failed to ease the crisis.
To underscore the gravity of the situation, Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has taken to Twitter to urge hauliers and the general public to avoid travelling to Kent.
Testing has begun as we look to get traffic moving again between the UK and France.— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) December 23, 2020
However, French border police only acting on agreement from this morning and severe delays continue. Please AVOID Kent while the backlog is cleared. Arriving in the area will delay your journey.
Meanwhile, Sky News’ Mark White says there is a “real sense of anger” among lorry drivers with “sporadic” clashes breaking out with the police.