Polish truck driver dies in accident caused by a roadblock
On Tuesday, June 20, French authorities confirmed that a Polish truck driver was killed in a highway accident on the A16 at Guemps near the port of Calais, France. The accident was caused by a roadblock installed by migrants trying to board trucks traveling to the UK. The local authorities of the Pas-de-Calais region said that nine migrants have been detained on the suspicion of having placed the obstacles on the road.
Poland urges France to guarantee security for its lorry drivers in the Calais region
As a consequence, on Wednesday, June 21, Poland urged France to guarantee security for its lorry drivers in the Calais region. Polish drivers account for a quarter of those driving long-distance European routes. This was echoed by a fresh call from a French union representing road transport workers for the light goods vehicle (LGV) sector to be regulated. The union is demanding that all LGVs carrying out national and international transport to be equipped with the latest tachographs in order to prevent such tragedies. Reacting to this incident, France’s new Interior Minister Gérard Collomb headed to Calais to meet with local authorities and business owners on Friday, June 23.
Such roadblocks have caused accidents in the past, with the most recent incident only dating back to June 9, but this is the first time they have been linked to a death. Before a shutdown of the migrant camp called “Jungle” in Calais in October 2016, migrants frequently set up roadblocks, usually at night, to slow UK-bound traffic in an attempt to reach Britain as stowaways on trucks. The settlement was home to up to 10,000 people at its height. Today, it is estimated that the number of migrants living again in the Calais area in precarious conditions range between 400 and 700.
Despite the lack of basic necessities such as free access to running water or designated sleeping areas, an increasing number of migrants are again arriving in Calais using it as a main transit point to rejoin friends or family across the Channel. In terms of immediate impacts in the short term, police forces may deploy more security forces to the roadside to avert any further actions by refugees, potentially causing additional travel time when transiting around the port of Calais.