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Dover delays: long waits persist for coach passengers News

  • By Malu Cursino and Emily McGarvey
  • bbc news
April 1, 2023

Updated 31 minutes ago

image source, anthony jones


Coach driver Anthony Jones, who posted this image, described a “frustrating” situation with queues at the port.

Travelers in Dover remain in long queues to catch ferries to France after waiting more than 12 hours, although port authorities say the situation is now improving for new arrivals.

Speaking to the BBC on Sunday night, the parents spoke of coachloads of children still waiting to cross the Channel after arriving late on Saturday.

The port administrators said that all traffic was now inside the port ready to be processed.

The outage and delays were first reported on Friday night.

The additional ferries that were put in place overnight on Saturday were not enough to keep queues at Dover from building for much of Sunday.

Officials cite slower border processing and a higher-than-expected number of coaches as causes of the delays.

The port said late Sunday that around 40 coaches were still awaiting immigration processing, up from 111 that day.

P&O Ferries said around 20 coaches were still waiting to board their ferries and their waiting time would be around five hours.

The company had previously said wait times were around 10 hours, although many passengers and bus drivers contacted the BBC to say their waits had actually been much longer.

A driver taking a group from Cardiff to Austria said they had been in the vehicle for 14 hours.

image source, jennifer fee


The coach passengers ended up camping out on the flat of a service station in Folkestone, due to delays at nearby Dover.

On Saturday night, tourist Jennifer Fee said her coach was “turning around and heading back to London” because she was told there was “no chance of a ferry today.”

Ms Fee sent the BBC footage of passengers camped out on the floor of a service station in nearby Folkestone, where coaches had “piled up” due to port delays.

Coach driver Zaishan Aslam was driving a group of schoolchildren from Cheltenham to Italy. He told the BBC they all arrived in Dover at 14:00 BST on Friday and were finally on a ferry at 03:30 on Saturday.

The group has already reached their final destination, but Aslam said they will return to the UK on Friday and he is afraid to think about what the situation with the ferries will be at that time.

The situation is “totally ridiculous,” Aslam said. “It’s as if it was produced deliberately to discourage bus drivers and schoolchildren from travelling.”

image source, Zaishan Aslam

Rob Howard, a teacher from Dorset traveling by coach with a group of schoolchildren, was on his way to northern Italy via Dover.

They arrived at the port at 4 p.m. Saturday, but the group decided to turn back after waiting more than 17 hours, Howard said.

He said each of the passengers was given a chocolate bar and less than a bottle of water during those 17 hours, and “there was a smell of urine everywhere” as some toilets were leaking.

The government has said it is in close contact with the port authorities.

In an interview with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the delays were the result of a “combination of factors”, including the high volume of trainers.

He said he sympathized with the families and school-age children trying to get away over the Easter holidays and hoped the problems would be sorted out soon.

Labor Party shadow leveling secretary Lisa Nandy told Sky News that problems such as port delays could have been avoided “if the government had reined in, got down to business and started doing the actual work”.

Officials have explained that long processing times at the border were partly to blame for the delays, and ferry companies said bad weather had disrupted some trips.

The port said ferry companies received 15% more coach bookings for the Easter period than expected. Boarding buses full of passengers is much slower than boarding cars.

Responding to reports of long delays at border controls, officials in northern France said on Saturday that there were “no difficulties that we know of” but that many coaches had arrived for travel at around the same time.

All border checkpoints were operational and border police had swapped some car checkpoints for coach slots, French officials added.

Simon Calder, travel correspondent for The Independent, said processing times since the UK left the EU had increased considerably “and that would seem to explain the delays.”

An EU border at Dover meant things were getting “complicated” as each individual passport had to be inspected and stamped after Brexit, he told the BBC on Saturday.

Asked if the delays were the result of Brexit, Labor Nandy said: “The point is not whether we left the European Union or not… the point was that we left with a government that made big promises and once He didn’t do it anymore.” deliver.”

And speaking to Sky News, Ms Braverman said that viewing port delays as “an adverse effect of Brexit” would not be a fair assessment.

‘Without communication’

Many coaches stuck in Dover have been ferrying schoolchildren from across the UK on school trips abroad.

Schoolteacher Sarah Dalby told the BBC her group started their journey from Nottinghamshire and 24 hours later they were still in line for passport control at Dover.

“No one has come to talk to us in the whole time. There is no information available. There is no food or water,” added the head of science at Worksop College.

The port apologized for the “long delays” and said the bottlenecks were being cleared.

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