The trucking company, headquartered in Luxembourg, has been awarded special certification by the Border Force of the United Kingdom assuring an effective system hindering clandestine (illicit, covert or otherwise unauthorized) entrants getting from France to Great Britain illegally. Refugees and asylum seekers trying to climb on trucks crossing the channel from Calais to Dover have become an increasing challenge for haulage companies which are operating that route.
Right now more than 3,000 refugees are gathering in Calais hoping to jump on a ferry, truck or train to enter the United Kingdom undetected by police or border patrol.
And the numbers are growing every single day.
An unbearable situation for the men, women and children who have fled Syria due to the civil war caused by the ruthless Assad regime, or who have left countries like Eritrea, Somalia or Chad in an attempt to escape poverty and seek a safe and prosperous future somewhere in Europe.
Great Britain is like a magnet for many because of the positive economic outlook or that family and friends who live there already can provide shelter for the new arrivals. One can clearly see how explosive the situation has become in Calais, where a growing number of people are so desperate to cross the channel that separates France and the UK, by any means possible.
Trucks are the preferred hiding places
“While trucks are queuing up, waiting to board the ferry at Calais, refugees often jump on the trailers or try to hide in the space between bridges and trailers to get across the channel without anyone finding out,” according to Simon Bitter, COO Wallenborn Group, describing the daily situation his drivers are exposed to.
Those desperate and often perilous attempts by the clandestine entrants to the UK have already resulted in fatal accidents.
Trucks are equipped with detection equipment
Wallenborn has taken some precautions to minimize the risk of stowaways jumping on board their air freight trucks, highly endangering their lives; asserts Simon, without revealing sensitive details. “All of our trailers are locked up and equipped with internal sensors. Should someone still manage to get inside, the detector triggers an alert signal that is sent to our two drivers and our Luxembourg head office simultaneously,” he says. In that case drivers have been instructed to stop their truck at the nearest police checkpoint.
According to Mr. Bitter, the entire security set-up was presented to the UK Border Force and certified by their experts after thorough technical inspections.
"With this certification we are able to differentiate ourselves by offering a very robust and secure transportation set-up for shipments to the UK", emphasizes Frantz Wallenborn, CEO of Wallenborn Transports. He goes on to say: "We are already TAPA TSR 1 certified and we believe that this certification will further strengthen our focus on security and integrity to protect our client’s assets."
Under UK civil penalty legislation, trucking companies may have to pay fines if they carry clandestine entrants to Great Britain in their vehicles. Addressing this issue the Cameron administration has set up a Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme to reduce the risk of receiving fines by ensuring that companies have effective systems to reduce clandestine entrants. The term refers to persons who hide in a vehicle, with the aim of avoiding immigration controls, as the vehicle enters the United Kingdom. According to the authorities, vehicle owners, hirers and drivers can be fined up to £2,000 for each clandestine entrant they carry.
This could become a costly matter for uncertified companies, considering the large amount of refugees tying to get into the UK undetected, regardless of the enormous risk to life and limb.
Over 200 runs per week both ways
Cargo traffic across the channel is a business mainstay for Wallenborn. “On average we operate more than one hundred trucks between mainland Europe and the UK per week, in each direction,” states COO Bitter. Air freight consignments account for 85 percent of the loads, he says. The goods are mostly brought to or picked up at London Heathrow, because some of Wallenborn’s main clients don’t serve London by freighter. “So we feed their goods in and out Heathrow, but also serve Manchester in case there is sufficient tonnage.”
Heiner Siegmund / Michael Taweel