Now one THOUSAND Dominos pizzas are delivered to stranded truckers who face Christmas alone on a damp airstrip in Kent after telling their wives and children they ‘won’t be home’
- Thousands of foreign drivers are likely to spend Christmas stuck in Dover, Kent
- Government has indicated queues will not move for at least another 24 hours
- Volunteers from Khalsa Aid coordinated deliveries of 1,000 Domino’s pizzas
- Salvation Army and Ramsgate FC have also been involved in feeding drivers
A group of Sikh volunteers have tried to the raise the spirits of lorry drivers stranded in Kent with a delivery of 1,000 Domino’s pizzas amid the ongoing border chaos.
Thousands of foreign drivers are likely to spend Christmas stuck in the UK as the Government has indicated queues will not move for at least another 24 hours.
Volunteers from Khalsa Aid coordinated the deliveries yesterday having already provided hundreds of chickpea curries to the stranded motorists a day earlier.
The volunteers from Maidenhead travelled over 80 miles to help out, while some of the group’s Langar Aid members journeyed more than 150 miles from Coventry.
Volunteers from the Guru Nanak Darbar temple in Gravesend cooked the meals, while staff from the Salvation Army’s South East Division were also helping to deliver food. Ramsgate Football Club was involved too, delivering 200 pizzas to the drivers.
Sikh volunteers from Khalsa Aid and Domino’s Pizza workers stand outside the branch in Sittingbourne, Kent, in preparation to deliver the fresh pizzas to stranded lorry drivers
The group of Sikh volunteers try to the raise the spirits of lorry drivers stranded in Kent last night with a delivery of 1,000 Domino’s pizzas amid the ongoing border chaos
Volunteers involved in distributing the hot meals to the lorry drivers are pictured last night
Ravinder Singh, founder of Khalsa Aid which is based in Maidenhead, said: ‘We in Sikhism, we have the concept of langar, which means community kitchen.
‘We are British Sikhs and the least we can do is to practise our seasonal goodwill: two days from Christmas we have people on our soil who are homeward bound and do not know what is happening.’
Many truck drivers have been eating through their last provisions on the side of the road with some of the 6,000 lorries having been parked on the A2 since Sunday.
Mr Singh added: ‘To see a solitary truck driver in his cabin on a horrible wet evening on the side of the motorway, it drives you to do more for them.
‘They were very appreciative but you could see they were down as they were unsure if they would get home for Christmas.’
Earlier this week Khalsa Aid also prepared hundreds of chickpea curries for the lorry drivers
Sikh volunteers also handed out snacks and water bottles to the drivers stranded in Kent
Drinks and snacks were handed out to the stranded drivers by Sikh volunteers earlier this week
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the lorries will begin moving on Christmas Day, as French firemen and the British military work with NHS Test and Trace to continue testing drivers.
Hauliers must return a negative coronavirus result carried out within the past 72 hours before crossing the Channel.
The head of the Road Haulage Association has accused France of treating drivers like ‘pawns in a larger game’ as the UK stands on the cusp of brokering a deal with the EU – an allegation the French have repeatedly denied.
Richard Burnett sympathised with the hauliers, a small number of whom clashed with police this week after being stopped from heading to the continent, adding: ‘It just feels like it’s a lever the French have pulled specifically around the Brexit negotiations.’
He told the BBC: ‘We understand that we don’t want the virus to spread but I think we have to think practically about some of the reasons why this has happened.’
Mr Burnett added he was ‘relieved’ hauliers would be able to move after French authorities demanded a negative test following the emergence of a new more transmissible coronavirus strain in the UK, but added it would ‘take some time’ to clear the backlog.
He added lorry drivers’ rates of coronavirus infection are much lower than those of workers in other sectors, at between 3 and 6 per cent.
Mr Shapps said France and the UK had agreed to keep the border open at Dover, the Eurotunnel and Calais ‘throughout Christmas’ to get citizens and hauliers cleared ‘as soon as possible’.
He promised ferries will sail on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, as 26 French firemen brought 10,000 extra tests to the port on Thursday to help speed up the process.
He said on Twitter: ‘As well as ensuring ferries will now sail on Christmas and Boxing Day, we’ve also got great cooperation by French firemen working with NHS Test and Trace and our brilliant military in a big effort to clear the backlog created by the French border closure.’
Lorry drivers queue on the M20 motorway to enter the Port of Dover in Kent this morning
French firefighters swab van and lorry drivers to test for Covid-19 at the Port of Dover today
France’s ambassador to the UK Catherine Colonna added that the two countries were ‘neighbours, partners, allies and (yes) friends’.
A disused airfield at Manston has become the main testing centre for hauliers, with drivers required to self-administer swabs in their cabs under supervision.
Trucks began entering the Eurotunnel again on Wednesday after drivers started producing negative Covid-19 results, but it is feared it could take days to carry out all the tests.
Around 170 military personnel, including from 36 Engineer Regiment and 1 Irish Guards, are assisting with testing.
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