Lorry queues of up to 7,000 in Kent predicted post Brexit

London, UK: A leaked government document, seen by the Guardian, suggests that in a worse-case scenario post-Brexit there could be queues of up to 7,000 lorries in Kent with drivers having to wait one or two hours to reach the front.

The “reasonable worst-case scenario” report, drawn up by the Border and Protocol Delivery Group, also points out that key IT systems continue to be under development and that a core IT system for hauliers is not expected to be tested publicly until the end of November. Plans for a national network of advice centres for trucks is currently unfunded. Only one site, in Ashford, has so far been bought by the government to hold lorries in the event of congestion.

On road haulage, the document forecasts that 50-70% of large businesses will be ready for cross-border trade. However, when it comes to smaller businesses, it believes that only 20-40% of small to medium-sized businesses will know what to do from 1 January.

Meanwhile, a BIFA survey has found that 64% of freight forwarders feel they would not have sufficient staff to carry out the additional customs-related tasks that will be required from the end of the transition period in January 2021.

Robert Keen, director general, BIFA, says he believes that the results the survey demonstrates that much greater clarity is needed on government plans for the border.

“The results indicate that the recent publication of the Border Operating Model and Moving Goods Under the Northern Ireland Protocol have not greatly assisted members’ understanding of procedures regarding imports and exports between the EU and UK, and GB and Northern Ireland, respectively.”

In a general question on their understanding of the Government’s plans for the border after the end of the Transition period, more than half of the respondents said that they either had no knowledge, or what knowledge they do have needs improving.

In regards to the Border Operating Model, whilst 70% of respondents said they understand the Customs procedures required to import goods into the UK from the EU at the end of the Transition period; less than half said that was the case in regards to Safety and Security Declarations. This was also the case with respondents that are involved in the import of live animals, and/or products of animal origin as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.

“We hope that they (the government) will be willing to listen to the significant reservations that have been expressed by the companies that are on the front line in the management of the UK’s visible imports and exports, including 80 percent or more of Customs entries, in regards to their preparedness for the end of the transition period,” Keen says.

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