The effects of ‘Operation Stack’ on Commercial Transport Services

It’s never an easy topic to talk about the effects of such a huge crisis unfolding on either side of the channel. With the costs of the fallout estimated to be well into the millions, something urgently needs to be done to improve the situation for hauliers and holiday makers alike.

It’s become more of a political roundabout than anything productive. Even the death of Cecil the Lion hasn’t caught as much traction as the crisis in Calais — at least not here in the UK! Fleeing Africa in fear of violence and the dangers of living life in collapsing societies has driven people here to the UK. It’s not about economic prosperity, rather safety and security. Because of this, it’s never been more important to find the socially and economically correct solutions.


Counting the cost

Business groups have already warned that the crisis will threaten the long term viability of British business. The cost to run a HGV according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is around £1 per minute, and with the introduction of operation stack causing up to 6 hours of delays, the damage is estimated to be valued at around £750,000 every day to the companies involved.

People from the outside looking in might not always appreciate the impact of a situation like this to many industry sectors. The Financial times has reported that because of the uncertainty and the suggestion that it could last all summer, companies are turning to quick fix solutions such as chartering aircraft to fill the void. This has seen further increases in costs to businesses who are desperately trying to maintain relationships with clients across Europe.

Despite the Ministry of Defence stepping in to help relieve some of the pressure, there are still 6000 Lorries parked on the M20. As outbound logistics is seen as a vital service to many sectors, the crisis is not only impacting on the haulage companies themselves but the flow of products through all different supply chain channels. It plays a critical role in the determination of supplier agreements between manufacturers and retailers, or suppliers and manufacturers. If the supply chain breaks down the fundamentals of successful logistics are non-existent. The question is, is there a long term solution to make these problems go away?

What can be done?

Many people believe that the government could and should do more to help alleviate the impact on UK and foreign Haulage services. Things that have been done so far include:

· Deployment of 100 more guards in the Euro tunnel

· Supply of additional facilities to help with Operation Stack (finding spare land for lorries to park on)

· Extra fencing for added security at the border

· Joint co-operation between UK and French authorities to prevent any unauthorised migration

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) have stated they are keeping up the pressure on UK decision makers to do more. Especially so because of the increasing safety risk that drivers are facing every time they cross the border. The extra assistance is much needed in a time when migrants are found hiding in the back of trucks, causing disruption among travel services and creating uncertainty here in France and Britain.

What do we know?

All that can be concluded from the scenario for drivers is that nothing is being done to improve their misery in a meaningful way. This is impacting on businesses across the country, hitting the haulage sector hardest. Do we really want to see desperate people being hurt because of their determination to get to the UK? Do we really want to see the impact of migrant action hurting the British economy? The answer to both questions is undoubtedly no. Everyone is now waiting for the government to take more control.

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