Operation stack has now reached phase four with the M20 closed coastbound between junctions 8 and 11, and Londonbound between junctions 9 and 8. The queue of freight traffic is the result of a strike by MyFerryLink workers, which began on 29th June, after DFDS promised to save only 202 of the 600 jobs at risk from the company’s liquidation.
The operation has lead to massive congestion, both for freight and the general public on the M20 and surrounding roads. Kent Police have issued advice to lorry drivers and other vehicles with regards to journey planning, time estimations, helping Operation Stack to progress and health.
To assist the waiting HGV drivers, Kent Police are on hand with directions while ‘humanitarian assistance’ is also being provided to the stranded lorry drivers. So far, more than 13,000 2L bottles of water and 6,000 meals have been provided. Kent County Council and Coast guard are all assisting the operation. Volunteers are running ‘welfare points’ along the motorway, as well as toilet points at regular intervals. Any drivers set to join the Operation Stack are advised to bring plenty of food, water, medication and toilet facilities if possible. Some drivers have even been photographed playing football to keep themselves entertained.
For this to happen across the hottest days of the year is far from desirable. For any freight driver, or motorist, across the UK the health advice is crucial: drivers should drink plenty of water and cold fluids, avoiding tea, coffee and alcohol; the vehicle should be as well ventilated as possible; no animal or person should be left alone in a stationary vehicle; a damp cloth on the back of the neck is helpful to stay cool and any symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath and vomiting require immediate medical attention and a cease of driving.
As of yet, it is unclear as to how long the strike will continue and Operation Stack will continue to be in force. This is a major hit for the UK logistics industry. Only time will tell how much damage will be done.