Calais: Van driver killed in crash caused by migrants’ motorway road block

Calais: Van driver killed in crash caused by migrants' motorway road block
Photos: AFP
A van driver was killed on a motorway near Calais on Monday night after crashing into a truck that had been blocked by a makeshift barricade set up by migrants hoping to jump aboard, local authorities have said.

Haulage groups had long warned about the dangers to drivers caused by migrants placing obstacles in the road in a bid to slow lorries so they can jump aboard in the hope of making it the UK.

Their fears that one day a driver would be killed in an accident were realised on Monday night when the driver of a Polish registered van died after crashing into an HGV that had been forced to stop because tree trunks had been placed across the road.

The accident happened on the  A16 motorway at Guemps, 15 km from Calais.

The driver's truck reportedly burst into flames on impact.

“The van hit one of three HGVs blocked by the barricade and burst into flames,” a statement from the local authorities read.

The identity of the driver is not yet known.

Nine migrants of Eritrean origin were arrested at the scene after being pulled out of one of three lorries that had been blocked by the barricade.

The driver's death is the first of its kind despite the hazardous make shift road blocks being a feature of the migrant crisis in Calais since it began in 2014.

The barricades, mainly erected at night were a regular hazard for drivers during the height of the migrant crisis in the summer of 2015.

Back then UK's Road Haulage Association chief Richard Burnett called for France to send the army in to protect its drivers.

'The UK and French governments must acknowledge their responsibilities to all Port of Calais users, move in and act. If this means deployment of the armed forces then so be it,' he said at the time.

The British government agreed to pay to build a 13-feet high, one kilometre-long wall along the main motorway into Calais to prevent migrants from encroaching on the road. But many suggested the wall would just move the problem elsewhere.

French authorities also responded to the crisis by closing the sprawling Jungle migrant camp, that at one point was home to almost 10,000 refugees. Since the closure last October the problems eased somewhat.

However there are reports that the roadblocks are emerging again in a sign that more and more migrants are returning to the Calais region.

At the end of June some 20 migrants built a burning barricade on the A16 motorway at Marck, a few kilometres from the port, Le Figaro reported.

Charities say there are now hundreds of migrants in the area around Calais and the numbers appear to be increasing as the warmer weather returns.

Charities have battled with local authorities, who have barred them from handing out meals to refugees.

That ruling was later overturned in court. Authorities have also ordered showers to be removed from the area.

On June 14th France’s rights activist Jacques Toubon denounced the “inhumane living conditions” in Calais.