RHA warns of 80% chance of chaos in Kent in January

London, UK: The Road Haulage Association has warned that there is an 80% chance of “chaos in Kent” on January 1 because the government is in denial about the urgent need to put post-Brexit customs systems in place.

The RHA’s chief executive Richard Burnett was speaking to the Future Relationship with the European Union Committee of MPs. He said that the roll out of the new systems was “not happening fast enough” and that it would be a struggle to recruit the 50,000 customs agents needed to process extra declarations. Burnett said the industry’s fear is that there will be “significant disruption potentially at the year end”, mainly because the UK will not have enough customs agents.

He said: “In terms of my gut feeling as we stand here today with 81 days to go, with the amount of work that we’ve got to undertake, (the likelihood of) chaos in Kent (is) 80/20.

“Because if businesses try to dispatch because they haven’t got customs agents to do the paperwork, then the chances are they’re going to still want to trade, they’re still going to want to drive volume there.
“If we’re not ready then the likelihood is we will have chaos.”

He said that ministers and civil servants simply “don’t get” what could happen and that they have a misplaced self-belief in their own rhetoric at the moment, that everything will be okay.

“The intelligence that is coming back from the industry is that there is a denial, there is an apathy, there is a real sense that government is not getting the message across that this is going to happen – the communications are not clear I don’t think.”

Cabinet minister Michael Gove has agreed to a round-table meeting with the logistics industry to discuss the issues.

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