Between 7,000 and 10,000 Spanish truckers are trapped in the United Kingdom after an order from France to close the borders with the British Isles. The Gallic country suspended traffic from the islands last Sunday because of the new strain of coronavirus that emerged in Great Britain with a high infectious capacity and only allows French drivers to enter the country. Carriers are blocked on the M20, the motorway that connects the London capital with the port of Dover and the Eurotunnel, where there are hardly any services where they can supply themselves or meet other needs. Most of the truckers “locked up” in Great Britain, who will not be able to return home for Christmas, cover the routes of the entire Mediterranean arc: mainly in the Region of Murcia, the Valencian Community and provinces of Andalusia such as Almería or Granada.
The secretary general of the Regional Federation of Transport Organizations and Companies of Murcia Froet, Manuel Pérezcarro, said last Monday that the federation is in permanent contact with the world organization for road transport known as IRU through the Spanish Confederation of Freight Transportation (CETM) in order to negotiate the return of drivers to the mainland. In addition, the President of the Government of the Region of Murcia, Fernando López Miras, appeared that same day at a press conference and demanded that the Minister of Public Works, José Luis Ábalos, act “immediately” to guarantee the return of truckers to the country. sooner.
For the consolation of the carriers stranded on the M20, on Tuesday morning French Government sources have declared that “they are working to find a solution and that it will be announced throughout the day.” The UK has proposed testing the thousands of roadblocks in Kent County, south-east England, for the virus.
Mariano Buitrago and Santiago Polo, two of the Murcian truckers trapped on English roads, express their discomfort and uncertainty to this newspaper. Both drivers were able to navigate to a service area unlike most of their colleagues.
To the national, without explanation
“I am lucky to be here, where I have to eat, sleep and wash, but the companions who are in the gutter have nothing. When the colleagues in the queue run out of food and water, how long will they last in the truck? ”, Buitrago wonders. On Sunday afternoon, while Buitrago was returning from Oxford after unloading spinach from the Murcian orchard, he learned from other colleagues about the decision being considered by the French government to close the borders. “I thought it was a hoax,” he confesses. He tells how as he approached the border, the police appeared to cut off the highway. “He threw us to the national without any explanation,” says the carrier.
Both drivers of the company Hermanos Corredor had the square schedules to be able to arrive on December 23 at night and celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas with their families. Both Mariano and Santiago regret that “even if a decision is made in the next few hours, with the regulations that exist for daily driving, it would take two and a half days to return.” Mariano points out that “it is unheard of to leave behind some people who are risking their health to bring food to a country and taking risks even though they are afraid of contagion. This is how they pay us ”.
For his part, Santiago, who was heading to Spain after unloading in Peterborough, a city north of London, shares the rumors that have originated in recent hours among truckers. “We do not believe that it is because of the coronavirus strain. It is rumored that the closure may be due to a conflict between France and England after Brexit, ”says Polo. “Neither the train nor the ships have enough capacity to take out thousands of trucks. I am afraid that the unlocking will last six or seven days ”, the Murcian driver also warns.
Yellow vests, general strike and new strain of COVID
Javier Laredo, from a town in Granada, is also known the route to the United Kingdom like the back of his hand after 15 years at the wheel as a freelancer. Wanting to escape the queues that have formed in the last hours, he stayed on Monday in the outskirts of London and has rested in a service area, “but they are very expensive, 35 pounds.” Last night he had a Gallina Blanca soup that was cooked with his stove, “and a little cheese” for dinner.
Laredo not only loses in the emotional, every day stopped “translates into 500 euros that I do not win.” They were waiting for him between now and tomorrow in Guadalajara to unload the cargo. On board his truck, “which is distinguished by two Eagles painted on both sides”, it is not the first time that he has been blocked. “It happened to me in France when the yellow vests demonstrated and many years ago, more than ten, in a general strike in Spain.”