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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Delays begin to ease at Dover as port chief says he is 'ashamed' about tailbacks

Holidaymakers were stuck for over 15 hours in their cars at the port of Dover yesterday due to heightened entry checks by French border police.

Cross-Channel ferry French security checks Motorists next to their vehicles queuing at the Port of Dover in Kent. Source: Yui Mok

DELAYS HAVE EASED for motorists going to Dover this morning, but police have warned there could be further disruption.

Holidaymakers spent hours sweating in their cars as 15-hour queues snaked back from the port of Dover yesterday due to heightened entry checks by French border police.

However, traffic levels this morning are beginning to return to normal as operators attempt to clear the backlog of queues.

Vehicles tailed back up to 19 kilometres inland from Dover, on England’s southeastern tip.

The peak summer holiday getaway season and what Dover port officials said was a lack of French border control staff combined with the increased security to create the mammoth queues.

Dover is Britain’s main ferry port to continental Europe, with Calais in northeastern France 33 kilometres away across the Channel.

Cross-Channel ferry French security checks Cars stuck in traffic delays yesterday. Source: Yui Mok

Stranded

A multiple sclerosis sufferer travelling to Germany for stem cell treatment was among those forced to spend the night in their vehicles.

What should have been a straightforward journey to Dover turned into a 20-hour ordeal for 50-year-old Tanya Cudworth, who was travelling to a Frankfurt clinic.

She told the Press Association news agency that her experience was “absolutely horrendous”.

“Nineteen hours in the car has obviously aggravated my symptoms,” she said.

“During the day it was so hot and there was nowhere near enough water and at night… you couldn’t sleep because you had to keep moving forward.

“We didn’t get any water until 3am and I saw women with babies, young families and people with pets with no water. It’s shocking that more wasn’t done to get it to people.”

Cross-Channel ferry French security checks Traffic delays approaching Dover port. Source: Yui Mok

‘Ashamed’

Jean-Marc Puissesseau, the president of the Cote d’Opale Chamber of Commerce, who runs the port of Calais, said he was “ashamed” about the huge delays.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he would complain to the French authorities about the’re failure to prepare for increased border checks.

He said insisted that he would complain to the French authorities about the failure to prepare for increased border checks.

People were advised to bring food and drink supplies, while Sikh humanitarian organisation Khalsa Aid delivered bottles of water and snacks.

“We met a lot of young families with children, mostly people going on holidays,” said founder Ravi Singh.

“People didn’t know what was going on.

“People were very, very frustrated and pulling their hair out.

“It was a very miserable day for many people.”

Cross-Channel ferry French security checks Traffic delays have been blamed on heightened security measures. Source: Yui Mok

Understaffed

Dover port authorities said French border control booths had been “seriously understaffed overnight”.

British border officials were drafted in to help their French colleagues.

“We recognise the security pressures that French law enforcement organisations are under at Dover,” said a British government spokeswoman.

Highways England, which runs the road network, said the delays were due to “heightened security checks to keep the travelling public safe following the recent attacks in France”.

Cross-Channel ferry French security checks Source: Yui Mok

Xavier Czerwinski, a senior official from the Pas-de-Calais area, said: “The situation is exceptional because it’s the weekend when Britons make the great getaway to the continent.

“Given the European context and the prolonged state of emergency, officers are obliged to check every vehicle rigorously.”

The Independent in the UK said the queues “may be the first sign of what it means to live outside the European Union”.

“The snakes of traffic outside Dover are a reminder that we cannot expect life to carry on as normal after Brexit,” its editorial said.

© AFP 2016

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