Traffic chaos as lorries wait their turn to enter the port of Dover in England
A Donegal truck driver currently stranded at the English port of Dover has vowed he'll be home for Christmas.
Damien Doherty from Inishowen is currently caught up in the mayhem that has been caused by travel bans imposed due to concerns about the new coronavirus variant.
Freight lorries cannot cross by sea or through the Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover has closed to outbound traffic as France blocked arrivals of UK passengers for 48 hours.
About 10,000 lorries a day travel between Dover and Calais during peak periods such as Christmas.
The Port of Dover is closed to traffic leaving the UK "until further notice" due to border restrictions in France, port authorities said in a statement.
"Both accompanied freight and passenger customers are asked not to travel to the port," it said. "We understand that the restrictions will be in place for 48 hours from midnight."
Freight coming to Britain from France will be allowed, but there are fears lorry drivers will not travel to avoid being stuck in the UK.
Unaccompanied freight, such as containers or lorry trailers on their own can still be transported, but outbound vans, lorries and trucks are banned. Hauliers are advised to find other routes into the continent.
Border restrictions could mean disruption to food supplies, as well as difficulties in meeting orders of British goods in continental Europe.
Speaking on the RTE News at One this afternoon (Monday), Mr Doherty said he initially heard of problems in Dover as he approached the port.
"You cannot enter France but you can ship out unaccompanied transport. I was left with only one option. The port of Dover was practically closed last night with a lot of queues going into it. They were just running people in through the port and back out again as it was closed unless you wanted to ship an unaccompanied trailer to France.
Mr Doherty said as he was transporting fresh fish time was of the essence as its shelf life was short.
"It was going to the market in Boulogne and we had clients there who had the product bought and were waiting on their product for Christmas so it's a bit of a problem really."
Mr Doherty said he had to send the trailer on by itself at 3am on Monday morning to go to Calais.
"The problems is then I'm sitting in Dover with no trailer, which has gone to France and we've had to organise a French company to go to Calis to collect the trailer, then go to Boulogne and try and get the product off to its destination. I am then hoping to get the trailer back into Calais and ship it back to me so I can collect it again."
He added he had no real idea when he would get his trail back.
"It's a waiting game now. I hope to have the trailer back at some stage late this (Monday) evening or tonight. But we also had a back load back into Ireland organised for loading today at 3pm but that's gone out the window as well," he said.
He added he had also seen the huge queues of lorries waiting to get into Dover and go across the Channel but he wasn't sure if they would make it home.
"They say they're closing for 48-hours but will it be extended. Dover last night was mayhem. You had cars, vans and trucks trying to dole each other out of the way as they thought there were still boats going.
He added there were other lorries loaded in Donegal and other parts of the country going to France, Spain and Portugal but that was out the window now as well.
"So they are now looking for direct boats going from Dublin or Rosslare to Santander, Spain and places like that which might be hard because I'd say they've already been booked with fresh products leaving Ireland in the short term at least.
"In the long-term there's definitely going to be a problem. If for example Holland brings in restrictions that could affect Hull and places like that, there's going to be major consequences for sure."
He added despite all the chaos he was determined to be back in Inishowen for Christmas.
"One way or another I'm going to be there," he said.
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