Truckers call for help after being stranded in Kent for second night

Ben Mitchell, PA
·3-min read

Stranded truck drivers are calling for immediate help from the Government with thousands stuck while the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel remain closed to traffic leaving the country.

More than 1,500 lorries are backed up in Kent, unable to make the crossing to France, with drivers having spent a second night sleeping in their cabs.

Ronald Schroeder, 52, from Hamburg, Germany, who was turned back from Dover on Sunday night, said the “social situation” for drivers is worsening due to a lack of toilet and washing facilities.

He told the PA news agency: “I am now staying in a hotel, but in front of the hotel there are thousands of people without any rooms waiting to come over the Channel crossing.

“I feel a little bit like Robinson Crusoe on an island.”

He went on: “The problems of the drivers who are not already in hotels is huge – in my hotel three buses are renting just one room to have a toilet and a shower.

“They say in the buses, the motor is running, the social situation becomes more and more worse every hour.

“The public toilets should be open here right now, there should be someone to hand tea or coffee to the drivers, there should be more help for all the people who have been stranded.”

He added: “Myself, I am in a warm hotel, I have enough food for the next two weeks, but I see a lot of people who have big problems staying more than one night.

“People are already staying a second night in their car, it’s just not a life. I ask the British Government to please help, and help immediately.

“I do not see there is much help from the Government, the British Government or the Belgium government, which just says wait, and how long it should be is the question.”

Mr Schroeder said he has resigned himself to not getting home to be with his family on Christmas Day.

“I already know that for me Christmas is gone, I have already stopped the hope of Christmas, hopefully I can be back for New Year, but I have lost the hope this Christmas to be at home with my children and my wife.”

A Kent County Council spokesman said the M20 motorway remains closed coastbound from Junction 7 while Operation Stack continues to manage the thousands of lorries.

He said: “The Port of Dover and Eurotunnel are closed due to the suspension of accompanied freight and tourist traffic to France.

“All freight wanting to use the Port of Dover or Channel Tunnel should now go to Manston Airport via the M2 and A299.

“All non-freight traffic will leave the M20 at J7 to join the A20 and follows the yellow circle diversion route.

“As a result, Operation Stack remains in place on the M20 between J8 and J12 coastbound.

“The M20 is currently closed coastbound from M20 J7, whilst Op Stack is changed to Op Brock with the movable barrier and crossovers being put in place.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said that as of 6am on December 22, there were 873 HGVs on the Manston site, with a further 650 vehicles on the M20 between J11-9 which would be moved to Manston.

Eurotunnel Freight posted on Twitter that an agreement could be reached for drivers to enter France if they could provide a negative Covid-19 test.

A spokeswoman for the Port of Dover said: “Nothing has changed, the port is still closed, we are waiting to hear any updates.”