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Truck drivers call for help as hundreds face third night stranded in Kent

·4-min read

Stranded truck drivers have called for immediate help from the Government as hundreds face a third night sleeping in their cabs.

More than 2,800 lorries were being held up in Kent while the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel remained closed to traffic leaving the UK.

Hauliers unable to make the crossing to France have been told to go to Manston Airport, near Ramsgate, which is being used as a lorry park.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

Truck driver Laszlo Baliga, 51, from London, spent Tuesday delivering food and water to those lined up in the disused airfield.

He began taking supplies after Hungarian drivers stranded in the lorry park posted on Facebook asking for help, with one telling him the only toilet on the site had been blocked.

He said he and friends had so far spent more than £500 on food and water for drivers at the site.

But the Government defended the provision of facilities for drivers caught in the chaos, saying there were “more than adequate health and welfare provisions available”.

Delivering bottles of water, Mr Baliga said: “This is our third time, we have got ready-to-eat sausages, bread, tomatoes, lettuce, coffee. Basic foods for now for the drivers.

“When we see Hungarian drivers coming in we say stop, and the drivers take things in to the other side to give to everybody.

“We like to help because this is a difficult time.”

Mr Baliga said he intends to return on Wednesday to continue taking food and drink to those in need.

One driver, who was turned back from Dover on Sunday night, called for immediate help from the Government over the lack of toilet and washing facilities for drivers.

Ronald Schroeder, 52, from Hamburg in Germany, said: “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 called for public toilets to be opened for drivers and tea and coffee for those stranded.

Watch: Truck drivers stuck in Dover angry and confused

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.”

A joint Government and Kent Resilience Forum statement said: “Food, toilets and water are available for hauliers along the M20 and at Manston, with more food trucks expected to arrive at Manston shortly.

“There are more than adequate health and welfare provisions available, with nearly 150 toilets and urinals at Manston and portable toilets every 1km on the M20 between junctions 10a and 11. Seventy additional toilets will arrive at Manston tomorrow morning.”

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

A Kent County Council spokesman said the M20 remains closed coastbound from Junction 7, while Operation Stack continues to manage the 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 follow 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 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 Tuesday, there were 873 HGVs on the Manston site, with a further 650 vehicles on the M20 between junctions 9 and 11, 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.”

Watch: Army deployed to Kent to clear border backlog

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