Clandestine migration is an issue that attracts interest these days, with TT Club informing that except border disruptions, this issue poses a great risk of contamination and damage to goods.
It is reported that refrigerated trailers which usually contain food are the most preferred host vehicle as they are typically easier to get through port detection procedures. Specifically, soft-sided vehicles pass through passive millimetric wave imaging (PMMWI) equipment and any irregularities are investigated with a manual vehicle search. Yet, these procedures are conducted by port staff and not Border Forces.
In addition, solid-sided vehicles are not being scanned by PMMWI scanners, as the equipment is not strong enough to penetrate the panels of the trailer. Thus, these vehicles pass through a heartbeat detection shed. Two geophone sensors are placed on the ground (to calibrate the background noise) and two are placed on the body of the trailer. The driver gets out of the truck, the engine and refrigeration unit are switched off, and any irregular signal suggests that migrants are present. This process takes around 10 minutes and the volume of traffic is high – around 15% of traffic is solid-sided vehicles.
It is stated that vehicle check is being conducted by French Port staff, as border forces search less than the 10%. Nowadays, port staff also use sniffer dogs in the ferry allocation lanes, which are very effective, but again, mainly with soft-sided vehicles.
Concerning the UK, about 6,000 driver accompanied freight vehicles enter in an everyday basis, with the majority entering through Dover of Eurotunnel.
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The full EU membership has also led to a border freedom and less friction to new EU members. Therefore, trucking fleets in these states have grown significantly.
Smuggling people is a rising business, with gangs reportedly charging in excess of €5,000 to conceal a migrant. Migrants now often enter the vehicle hundreds of kilometres from the port – and the longer they are in the load the more contamination occurs.
Now, 2019 closed with surging numbers concerning clandestine migration with each Brexit deadline, as smugglers anticipated the border becoming more secure after Brexit.
Concerning the severity of this issue, TT Club informs that Oakland International, based at Redditch, UK, is a specialist in assessing a variety of loads that may have been contaminated by clandestine incursion. Last year, Oakland handled 350 contaminated loads. However, about 5,000 food loads were infected by stowaways during that same period. Worryingly, many of these loads ‘disappear’ and reappear after an incomplete and unauthorised clean up. Oakland has also seen a recent increase in other forms of contamination, such as insects and rodents.
Many consignees reject a load that it is suspected to have been contaminated, but Oakland files show that, on average, 85% of the load can be safely recovered. As such, this specialist intervention can reduce the material loss.