Goods should be transported to and from Europe on direct ferries “for the foreseeable future” to avoid Covid-19 and Brexit delays in Britain, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.
As Irish lorry drivers remained stuck in long queues of traffic in Britain for a second day, Mr Coveney said the disruption experienced on roads to sea ports in southern England would continue for weeks to come with Brexit taking effect on January 1st and new border checks.
“There is going to be a period of time for some weeks now, where there’s going to be a lot of disruption, and a lot of uncertainty around timelines and queuing,” he told The Irish Times.
Mr Coveney said businesses looking for certain deliveries in the coming weeks should “shift their focus, for now, away from the landbridge.”
“If people are looking for certainty, then direct ferry routes give them that,” he said.
Haulage industry concerns about a shortage of capacity for lorry drivers on direct ferry routes would be addressed quickly by shipping companies because if there is a “dramatic reduction” in landbridge traffic, ferries on the Irish Sea would be switched to the direct routes, he said.
“This is a very dynamic space. We have seen a very significant increase in capacity over a short space of time, the last six months, and we are likely to see that continue into next year,” he said.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan urged people not to panic about shortages of supplies due to the effective closure of the British landbridge due to Covid-19 delays.
“People shouldn’t be panicking or shouldn’t be fearful that there are going to be shortages,” he said.
France’s ban on freight traffic from Britain on Sunday to prevent the spread of a new Covid-19 strain left up to 250 Irish lorry drivers stranded in Britain en route to continental Europe and disrupted supply chains for Irish firms transporting goods to and from mainland EU states.