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Increasing violence against truck drivers in mainland Europe means major UK shippers are fearing for their cross-Channel supply chains.
On Friday, a driver heading to the UK was attacked about a mile from Calais after leaving the cabin to check his vehicle having seen a group of people attempting to enter it.
An alert issued by Kuehne + Nagel (K+N) said the driver was struck over the head with a brick before the group hijacked his lorry.
The driver was hospitalised with what K+N described as a “severe” head injury. Police later stopped the hijacked lorry some 8km from the hijack site.
Industry liaison and intelligence officer at the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NavCIS) Andrew Round said the hijackers were believed to number between 20 and 30 men.
Mr Round said: “If the levels of violence seen over the last six to eight weeks persist, I’d like to see the military brought back in.
“It is just not fair on the drivers; something has to be done between the UK and French governments above and beyond what they are already doing.”
In June, a Polish van driver died in the early hours of the morning on one of the main approach roads to Calais after colliding with three trucks that had been forced to stop at a makeshift barrier set up by migrants.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) reported that nine Eritreans were subsequently found in the back of one of the trucks.
Mr Round said NavCIS advises that, in the first instance drivers should remain in the cabin if they see anything unusual, try to keep the truck moving and ring the emergency services.
One forwarder told The Loadstar Friday’s incident had left several shippers – including some of the UK’s biggest brands – concerned for their supply chain security.
An RHA spokesperson told The Loadstar the event underlined the desperation of would-be migrants to reach the UK.
“In June, a driver died because of this migrant activity, and the outcome could very well have been the same [on Friday]. It’s clear these migrants will stop at nothing,” said the spokesperson.
“We don’t want to see another life lost and are calling for additional security to be put in place. It is clear this is needed not only at the ports but on the approach roads too.”
EU affairs manager at the Freight Transport Association (FTA) Chris Yarsley said the situation in Calais had improved after the “Jungle” migrant camp was cleared at the end of 2016.
But with the weather improving, sources told The Loadstar the number of migrants in the area was back on the rise.