As the Brexit deal negotiations are expected to be wrapped up at the end of this week, the stakeholders are rolling up their sleeves in an attempt to make the transition after the new year as smooth as possible for all involved. The French border controls at the Eurotunnel decided to run a simulation of the post-Brexit checks procedures in the morning hours on Tuesday this week.
Long queues of HGVs built up on the M20, starting from the Eurotunnel and stretching beyond junction 11 for Folkestone. The reason for the tailbacks was the increased time it was taking the French border control officers to perform the necessary checks as they trialled the post-Brexit boarding system. A long line of HGVs quickly developed along the motorway, forcing the drivers to park on the hard shoulder. Highways England had to close off any entry and exit slip roads at junction 11 due to the gridlock along the sides of the roads.
The queues were said to be five miles long. Considering the length of a standard HGV, a five-mile-long queue would be made up of less than 400 lorries – far less than the worst-case scenario of 7,000 lorries queueing in Kent as Gove warned of last month. The Tuesday morning congestion shows a glance of things to come in the new year, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.
Although, according to one source, the operation that took place on Tuesday morning was not a true representation of how things will be, come January because not all the motorway lanes were being used, and the French did not have enough staff to deploy to this test operation.
The new software for post-Brexit boarding checks was being tested on Tuesday between 6 am and 3 pm. Adhering to the new rules, the clerks will ask the lorry drivers to provide their passports, as well as to disclose proof of means, the destination and the predicted length of stay. All of this is predicted to take up to 70 seconds per passenger.
Some lorry drivers, transporting goods for industries, such as food, drink, agriculture and those subject to customs, may face further delays after the official transition period ends. This will apply to those heading to Calais, as well as those entering the UK.
The UK government has announced these procedures will be phased in over 6 weeks to avoid any drastic changes that are likely to bring the Kent roads to a standstill. Nonetheless, there are worries among the haulage sector as the software that is meant to be implemented gradually prior to the deadline of 31st December is unlikely to be ready in time.
The longer the delays, the more costs business will have to take on, which in turn is likely to be translated to the customer. Being prepared for what is coming and doing your part so that your business is 100% prepared for all the potential scenarios is the best thing you can do right now. If you would like our experts’ assistance, get in touch today!