Almost two weeks after the UK”s exit from the EU truck drivers are being forced to wait, for days in some cases, for the correct paperwork to ship goods out of the UK.
The changes to customs rules threaten to leave UK supermarkets with shortages of some products.
“It’s not good,” explained UK-based Polish lorry driver Petar Loba, “this situation, for me it’s too much paperwork, too much wait, wait, all the time is wait. This is not good.”
At least one leading freight forwarding agent is warning that some hauliers may simply refuse to deliver goods to Britain rather than deal with all the revised paperwork and red tape involved.
“The drivers are often paid by the kilometre,” said agent John Shirley. “So if they’re sitting over there, as they are right now, they’re just going to hand in their notices, or say to their bosses ‘I don’t want to go any more to Britain, I’m going to only take loads you give me within Europe’, and that’s what’s going to happen.”
In Northern Ireland, where the new relationship with the EU is more complicated than the rest of the UK, supermarket shortages of British products are already a reality.
Kieran Sloan manages Sawers delicatessen in Belfast.
“We can’t get deliveries you know,” he complained. “Companies are taking orders and then they’re ringing us back going, ‘we can’t deliver that until further notice.'”
Northern Ireland is part of the UK but shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland, which is in the EU.
Traders there say that in the absence of deliveries from Britain, their only option is to fill their counters with products from the EU.
The Republic of Ireland is increasing direct ferry services to Europe for trucks that previously traveled via the UK.