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Officials at the Port of Dover say they are “deeply frustrated” about significant traffic delays that have seen travellers queuing for up to 12 hours as the Easter getaway begins.
A critical incident was declared overnight on Friday and operators P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways reported delays to ferry and coach services, citing bad weather and hold-ups at French border controls as partly responsible.
In a statement on Saturday morning, the port blamed the delays on “lengthy French border processes and sheer volume” of people travelling.
Traffic at the Port of Dover in Kent as the Easter getaway begins
It said: “Despite considerable pre-planning with our ferry operators, border agency partners and the Kent Resilience Forum and the success of similar plans for processing substantial numbers of coaches during the most recent half-term period, the additional coach bookings taken by ferry operators for Easter, has impacted operations for the port.”
An environmental campaigner named Rosie, who persuaded her family to take the coach rather than fly to France, said the situation in Dover was “absolute carnage.”
She told Sky News that she had waited for 12 hours and they were facing at least another two-hour delay before begin processed: “Nobody has come to see us to say anything.”
Travellers also aired their frustrations on Twitter, saying the delays had put a damper on the start of the Easter break.
One person said she has been stuck in a queue for 18 hours and counting, while another criticised P&O Ferries for a lack of support.
Louise Hancock tweeted: “My daughter’s been on a bus since 10am yesterday morning and will now lose the first night of her trip due to this.
“She is tired and hasn’t eaten since yesterday lunchtime with no proper food provided, what you have made these kids endure isn’t acceptable.”
A spokesman for the Port of Dover said just before 9am on Saturday: “Coach waiting time is still several hours, but tourist cars are getting through OK.”
In a tweet earlier on Saturday, P&O Ferries apologised for the delays but said it had “no control over the processes at border control” and “cannot confirm how long it will take to pass through”.
A number of coaches that have been stuck in significant delays belong to schools heading on Easter holiday trips.