European lorry drivers have been seen pouring booze and decorating a Christmas tree with tin cans amid fears they may be forced to spend the festive season separated from their families while stranded in Dover.
Attempting to keep spirits high, one driver was today seen pouring wine into cardboard drink cups before serving it to his friends, while others drank vodka and Coke around a small Christmas trees decked with used drinks cans.
Others also attempted to take the travel chaos in their stride. One Turkish long-haul truck driver was seen tucking into a Mediterranean breakfast at a truck stop off the M20 motorway, seemingly unfazed by the mass-disruption.
Another cooked breakfast from the back of his lorry, while one driver was spotted hanging clothes and towels to dry on the front of his lorry.
But not all were happy with the disruption. Today furious French drivers blamed Emmanuel Macron for the chaos at Dover after his travel ban left hundreds stranded in the UK.
One French apple grower cried ‘Macron, merde! Let me come home,’ as she anxiously awaited news on plans to lift the cross-Channel travel ban.
Marie Noelle, 63, from the city of Tours, desperately wants to cross the Channel to attend the funeral of her mother, who died on Sunday.
But she and hundreds of others like her today remain stranded in the Kent port town as French and British officials attempt to thrash out a deal to lift the travel ban.
Around 1,500 lorries are thought to be queued in and around Dover awaiting the green light to cross the Channel.
Some fear not being able to return to their families in time for Christmas, while others have bemoaned the toilet situation for stranded drivers – with one saying ‘they are not a pretty sight’.
Emergency talks are taking place today in a bid to end the travel ban, with the French president expected to announce plans to reopen the border later today.
The 48-hour ban, introduced on Sunday after the identification of a new Covid-19 strain in the UK, is set to end at 11pm tonight.
But with talks ongoing today over a possible border Covid testing scheme, and Highways England warning that delays could last several days, some lorry drivers fear the prospect of missing Christmas with their families.
One lorry driver told BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme: ‘I feel bad, really bad, terrible in fact. We known nothing, we don’t know if we can get home to see our families for Christmas.’
On plans for lorry drivers to be tested before their return, he said: ‘It will be good, but maybe in Dover there are 1,000 to 1,500 lorries.
‘If they implement testing here then maybe it will be a good idea, but they need to start now to get to Christmas Eve.’
‘There is no words to describe this. I came on Sunday and on Sunday they decided to close it. If I knew that one day before, I would never have come here.’
Lorry driver Caspar Pecherzewski, from Poland, is also among the lorry drivers caught up in queues at Dover since Sunday.
The 22-year-old said: ‘We can find a toilet, at a gas station or something, but we don’t have showers and stuff.
‘No one is saying anything about how long we will be here. The police just told us to wait.
‘I think I won’t be getting paid while waiting here and my company don’t know what to say because they don’t know what to do, the ports are closed.’
He added: ‘We’re stuck here and we don’t know how long it will take, this situation. It’s really f***** up.’
Trucker Elvis Abdulcair, 43, has a shipment full of Christmas cards and presents posted from England to Romania in his van.
He fears they will not be delivered in time for the big day on December 25.
Mr Abdulcair, who is driving with colleague Daniel Dragomir, also 43, said: ‘I feel like Santa Claus with no reindeers. My sleigh is grounded.
‘It is very bad because all these people will not have their cards and presents from their family in time for Christmas.
‘The French government is s***. They have ruined it for everyone. And for what?
‘I have been here two days now and don’t know how much longer it will go on for. I just want to go home.’
Greg Mazurek, 36, and Simon Kopanearz, 30, have been stuck near the front of the queue outside the Port since 1pm on Monday.
Mr Mazurek was less than impressed at the toilet situation. He said: ‘No one has come to see us with food or anything. We have storage for three days but now we are having to go to the shops for food and water.
‘The bigger problem is the toilets in the city centre as there is a lot of drivers having to use them. It is not a pretty sight.’
Along with European drivers, British hauliers also face issues due to the travel ban.
Long-distance lorry driver Geoff Moxham could be about to miss his first Christmas at home in 45 years after France closed its borders with Britain.
The Cheltenham grandfather did not realise he was on the last ferry out of Dover until he started talking to a French member of staff who asked him how he was planning to get home.
Now, instead of putting his feet up on Christmas Eve, the dad-of-four faces being stuck at the side of the road with thousands of other drivers or driving down the motorway home.
He said: ‘I was 66 yesterday and spent my birthday on the road and I’m not planning to do the same at Christmas.’
‘I haven’t missed a Christmas at home for 45 years so I will be there even if I have to get a boat.’
HGV driver Frank could have officially retired on his 66th birthday on Sunday. Instead he was delivering heavy machinery to Germany for Charles Russell Transport in Deerhurst and drove on to the ferry to Calais at around 6pm on Sunday.
‘I was on the last ferry leaving the UK but I didn’t know until one of the French crew members I know wished me luck getting home.
Emergency talks are ongoing this morning in a bid to end the cross-Channel blockage, with Macron expected to announce his plan to end the travel ban later today.
Boris Johnson last night made a personal appeal to the French president to lift the shutters to the continent.
News Source: Daily Mail