'Worst queues I’ve ever seen': Lorry drivers face 12-hour waits and '30 mile jam' at Dover

7 April 2022, 13:51 | Updated: 7 April 2022, 16:17

Lorry drivers are facing 12-hour waits because of P&O
Lorry drivers are facing 12-hour waits because of P&O. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Lorry drivers have told LBC they are being forced to endure the "worst queues they've ever seen" on the approach to Dover, with reports of queues up to 23 miles long because P&O Ferries aren't running crossings.

Some drivers have been stuck in Operation Brock traffic for up to 12 hours with no access to food, water or toilets.

There are also reports a Spanish lorry driver desperate to use the toilet had to be airlifted to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford with serious injuries after he left his truck to relieve himself and fell from an overpass.

Officers from Kent Police and Paramedics from South East Coast ambulance supported by specialist “HART” Teams treated the man following the fall at around 9am this morning.

Chaos in Kent as 23-mile stretch of M20 closed due to ferry shortage

Some drivers have been stuck in Operation Brock traffic for up to 12 hours with no access to food, water or toilets
Some drivers have been stuck in Operation Brock traffic for up to 12 hours with no access to food, water or toilets. Picture: Alamy

Officials have been struggle to contain the cross-Channel chaos caused by the lack of P&O ferry crossings.

Operation Brock, part of a series of measures which is supposed to help local traffic flow in the event of disruption to services across the English Channel, is currently in place between junctions 8 and 9, but will now stretch to junction 11, as the lorry chaos blighting Kent grows.

Kent Resilience Forum says drivers are being warned to stock up before joining the queue
Kent Resilience Forum says drivers are being warned to stock up before joining the queue. Picture: Alamy

Lorry driver Nick Revitt, who is stuck in the jam, said: “We’ve got nowhere to go, there’s absolutely nothing provided for us whatsoever. “There’s no water, no food, no toilet facilities, no washing facilities, absolutely nothing.”

Kent Resilience Forum's tactical lead Toby Howe told LBC: "This is the worst for a long time and it’s a problem that won’t go away unfortunately. Any time there is an issue on the channel, Kent suffers.”

One motorist posted online: "Brexit has broken Britain. Today the M20 from Folkestone to junction 8 is a lorry park, with lorries waiting on the east carriageway and two lanes of the west carriageway. Almost 30 miles of 3 lanes of freight. Junctions 8-6 standing traffic, freight and domestic."

Trevor Bartlett, leader of Dover District Council, warned the port will be "under severe pressure throughout the busy Easter getaway".

Trevor Bartlett, leader of Dover District Council, warned the port will be "under severe pressure throughout the busy Easter getaway"
Trevor Bartlett, leader of Dover District Council, warned the port will be "under severe pressure throughout the busy Easter getaway". Picture: Alamy

In an open letter, he wrote: "It would be remiss of me not to warn you to expect, and prepare for, some disruption again this weekend.

"I have made it clear to the Kent Resilience Forum, Kent Police and Kent County Council that we will not tolerate another weekend of gridlock in Dover.

"For too long, local residents and businesses have had to endure disruption and, quite frankly, deserve better.

"We share your concerns about the impact of gridlock on local businesses and access to vital health and social care for our most vulnerable residents.

"Many are rightly worried about how the emergency services would be able to respond to a major incident when all routes into the town are effectively cut off."

On April 2 Kent Police Roads Policing unit said they were "working hard" to keep things running.

P&O Ferries has announced it is preparing to restart sailings "from this weekend" on routes suspended since it sacked nearly 800 seafarers.

The firm revealed plans to resume operations for four of its ships.

It has been prevented from running all but one of its vessels since it announced widespread redundancies on March 17.

The company sparked outrage by replacing its crews with cheaper agency workers, without notice.

A spokesman for the firm said yesterday: "From this weekend, P&O Ferries are getting ready to resume services across a number of vital routes.

"P&O has been working closely with regulators to ensure our ships are safe to sail.

"P&O is looking forward to welcoming back vital services and we expect to have two of our vessels ready to sail on the Dover/Calais route by next week, subject to regulatory sign-off, namely both the Pride of Kent and Spirit of Britain between Dover/Calais.

"P&O are also expecting to be able to sail both the European Causeway, which runs between Larne and Cairnryan, and the Pride of Hull, which runs services between Hull and Rotterdam."

He added: "We thank our customers for their patience during this time and we apologise to those customers whose journeys have been cancelled and disrupted."

The ferries will need to pass inspections by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) before operations can restart.

However, the MCA said: "There are no further inspections of P&O Ferries at the moment and we will reinspect at the appropriate time".

The announcement comes as a former P&O Ferries chef is reportedly suing the company for unfair dismissal, racial discrimination and harassment.

P&O Ferries chief executive, Peter Hebblethwaite, told a joint hearing of the Commons' business and transport committees that his company broke the law by not consulting with trade unions before sacking workers.

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