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Traffic chaos at Port of Dover eases slightly, though delays likely to continue

The British Ports Association chief said the situation at the Port of Dover has improved slightly following massive delays on Saturday (Gareth Fuller/PA)
The British Ports Association chief said the situation at the Port of Dover has improved slightly following massive delays on Saturday (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The situation at the Port of Dover has improved slightly but delays are likely to continue beyond the weekend, the boss of the British Ports Association has said.

The area has been plunged into traffic chaos, with gridlocked roads near the port caused by disruption to cross-Channel ferries and bad weather.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Sunday, Richard Ballantyne said: “It is a bit better today, we understand.

“Yesterday we were up to nine-hour queues outside the port. Traffic measures are in place, which… are working fairly well and it enables other people around east Kent and businesses, residents etc to move around freely.

P&O Ferries announcement
There was traffic chaos and gridlocked roads near the Port of Dover on Saturday (Nick Gale/PA)

“But (it is) not a good position if you’re stuck in a vehicle for six to eight hours.”

The suspension of P&O services, with three of the company’s vessels at berth in Dover, has been partly blamed for long queues in the area.

Adverse weather in the Channel and congestion caused by tourists travelling to Kent for an Easter getaway are also said to be contributing to the jams.

Drivers have been forced to wait for hours to board ferries after measures were triggered to control the movement of HGVs in the area.

Under Operation Brock, lorries heading to Dover are allowed to use one side of the M20 while all other traffic is restricted to a contraflow system on the opposite side.

The cross-Channel situation was dealt a further blow when a DFDS ferry, Dover Seaways, hit a berth in high winds on Thursday.

DFDS said in a statement the vessel is being inspected ahead of repairs and it is expected to return to service on Monday or Tuesday.

Despite the slight improvement, Mr Ballantyne said authorities are predicting delays will extend into the working week.

He said: “East Kent and the Kent police services… and the very well established operations team at the Port of Dover are predicting this is going to continue for another couple of days, but it is something we just quite don’t know how long it’s going to go on for.”

Nick Gale, a teacher from Kent travelling with his family to Calais for a trip to Amsterdam, said they had been stuck for “over two hours” on Saturday and missed the ferry they were booked on.

He told the PA news agency: “No communication at all from port staff. Policeman said it was basically the perfect storm, less ferries… plus bad weather and (the) P&O issue.”

Mr Gale criticised the “awful” communication around Dover, saying non-freight travellers were left in the dark about what to do.

“I think around Dover it’s awful, there is no communication for what non-freight customers (are) to do. We’re local to the area so knew a couple of ways to beat the huge queues but it’s literally not moving,” he said.

“We’ve got no food and an eight-year-old in the back moaning.”

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