We are all aware of the issues surrounding the UKs impending exit from the EU and the potential impact on haulage from January 2021.
For the third time, there have been queues of lorries on Kent’s motorways heading towards the channel. The Highways agency are also looking to test Operation Brock this week so that the M20 will be ready for long lines of trucks.
Yesterday the people of France saw the mirror image as queues formed outside Calais. There were kilometres of lorries waiting to clear border checks, which ultimately affects supplies into the the UK. It also allows illegal stowaways to have plenty of opportunities to attempt to climb onto stationary lorries.
But more important is the arrival of the COVID vaccine, which is being made in Belgium. Not only does the vaccine have to travel across the channel to get to us, it has to be kept chilled at -70 degrees celcius. That all sounds quite straight forward, until it is sat on a stationary lorry on the wrong side of the sea. Sadly, it would take a lot longer to build a manufacturing plant in the UK.
“where are the french police?” asked someone innocently
There are plenty of routes into the UK, and not just via France. The first shipments of the vaccine and due to come in via Eurotunnel, but all routes are potentially going to be affected in January, when the new custom borders are implemented.
Many EU hauliers are unlikely to send their trucks to the UK. Over half the lorries entering the UK are EU-registered and it could be as high as 80%. Many UK hauliers are not licensed to enter the EU due to quotas.
There is hope that plenty of the vaccines will make it to the UK before the 31st December date. But with 40 million bottles ordered so far, there is going to be a huge number of vehicles to get them here.
The last thing Boris or his Government want is for 30 millions bottles to arrive, but are all spoiled as the temperature could not be maintained whilst the lorry was waiting to make the crossing.
Perhaps this is the reason why Boris will not commit to a roll-out timetable – until he knows he has the vaccines in the country.
It will be a very interesting few months as things develop and the vaccines rolls off the production line. It is in everyone’s interest to get the vaccine, so it will pay for Boris to get the customs issues resolved in good time.