The UK is blaming France for travelers facing hours-long delays at ports

By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) – Truck drivers and Britons taking a ferry on holiday faced hours-long waits at the port of Dover on Friday, with authorities blaming French officials for the chaos, a claim France has denied.

Dover authorities said a shortage of French border officials was causing waits of up to six hours at border control at the English Channel port, with queues of tourist and freight traffic stretching for kilometres.

Millions of people in Britain are trying to start their holidays this weekend – the start of the summer holidays for most schools – and are facing disruptions to road, sea, rail and air transport.

The UK Port Authority said that despite months of work between the two countries to prepare for the peak tourist season, the number of French border police “was insufficient and far short of what is needed to ensure a smooth first weekend of the peak summer season.” period of escape.”

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Since Britain left the European Union in 2020, travelers from the United Kingdom have faced tighter border controls when traveling to the continent. In Dover, on the English side of the Channel, they are carried out by French personnel.

Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said the port had declared a “critical incident”.

“We have been very disappointed by the French border this morning,” he said, urging passengers to “consider delaying their journey to port at this time until further notice.”

France has denied that its border officials were unprepared. Georges-Francois Leclerc, the Hauts-de-France region’s top official, said an unforeseen “technical incident” in the Channel Tunnel prevented some staff at Dover border crossings on Friday morning as planned, but the problem was cleared after about 75 minutes. .

By Friday afternoon, port authorities said more French personnel had arrived “and traffic is moving slowly, but it will take some time to clear the backlog.”

Turkish truck driver Muhammet Turker said he started queuing at his platform in Dover on Thursday night and was still waiting 16 hours later.

“I’ve been in something like this before, but this is the worst,” he said.

Ferry operator P&O urged passengers to “arrive prepared for a long wait. Bring snacks and extra water.”

Protesters against high fuel prices also set up roadblocks on Friday on routes to south-west England, a popular holiday destination, although police said this did not cause any major traffic problems.

The problems follow several days of travel disruption on Britain’s railways after a heatwave brought a record 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) to the UK, bending rails and causing fires.

Railway workers also staged nationwide strikes last month over a dispute over pay and conditions, and more walkouts are planned next week.

Air travel in Britain and around the world has also been affected by the disruption, as airlines and airports struggle to cope with the return of mass travel after two years of pandemic restrictions.

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