Covid-19: Stranded truckers worried they won't get home for Christmas

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image copyrightGreg Mazurek
image captionGreg Mazurek was making the delivery with a second Polish driver

Stranded lorry drivers have spoken of their fears of being stuck in Kent over Christmas after France shut its border with the UK.

More than 1,500 lorries are waiting to leave the UK while the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel remain closed to traffic leaving the country.

Some have found places to stay, while others have spent two nights in their vehicles, waiting for information on how and when they will get home.

'We don't know when we will get home'

Polish lorry driver Greg Mazurek, 36, said he was in the UK with another driver to deliver a respirator to a medical centre on Sunday.

"I came on Sunday morning and in the evening we were told the border was closed, France was closed and [there was] no option to leave the UK.

"We were not prepared for such a long trip. It was supposed to be a fast delivery, two or three days, then go back home for Christmas with our families.

"Now we don't know if we will get home in time. We know nothing.

"It is no problem getting food. We are in Dover town centre. We can go to the supermarket.

"All we are doing is waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for information. Watching the port. Waiting to get back home to our families.

"They miss us, we miss them. We don't know when we will be able to get home."

'We are tired, we are disappointed and we are scared'

image captionFlorian Catana said he was desperate to get home to his wife and seven-year-old daughter

Romanian lorry driver Florian Catana said he was desperate to get back home to his family.

He told the BBC: "We are tired, we are disappointed and we are scared.

"We will miss our Christmas with families and we don't know what to do.

"I have called everywhere to ask if they can help us and no answer, nobody knows, we just have to wait.

"I found a place by a gas station to park, no toilet of course, only some water that we buy.

"We tried to find some place to sleep. It was so difficult. They don't want us. Our customers, they found a room and we slept.

"Last night we took a shower, we ate some warm food. Tonight we will sleep in the car. It will be difficult to find a place to stay as there are so many lorries now.

"My small daughter is seven years old. She is waiting for me.

"I tell her I am stuck here because the border is closed but she doesn't understand what the border is.

"She says 'you have to come, we have to make the tree for Christmas'. My wife was crying yesterday."

'It's the others I worry about'

image copyrightRussell Elphick
image captionRussell Elphick said he worries about the drivers from Eastern Europe

Russell Elphick, a 54-year-old lorry driver from the West Midlands, set off for Belgium on Sunday night and has been stuck in Kent ever since.

He is now waiting for his unaccompanied trailers to return from France, after which point, he will return home.

"There were five or six of us heading down Sunday night and we all decided to get off the motorway and head for Ashford truck stop which I think saved our Christmas.

"There is everything you need at the truck stops, toilets, hot food if you need it. But they filled up really quickly.

"There are just miles and miles of trucks marooned on the motorway and they've got no facilities or nothing, I really feel for them.

"I've had company from the other truckers. We've been drinking beer, I've had a whale of a time. It's the others I worry about.

"They won't be home for Christmas now."

'I already know that for me Christmas is gone'

image copyrightPA Media
image captionGerman lorry driver Ronald Schroeder said he has given up hope of getting home for Christmas

Ronald Schroeder, 52, from Hamburg, Germany, was turned back from Dover on Sunday night. He said the situation for drivers is worsening due to a lack of toilets and washing facilities.

He explained: "I am now staying in a hotel, but in front of the hotel there are thousands of people without any rooms.

"The public toilets should be open, there should be someone to hand tea or coffee to the drivers, there should be more help for all the people who have been stranded.

"I am in a warm hotel, I have enough food for the next two weeks, but other people are already staying a second night in their car.

"I ask the British government to please help, and help immediately.

"I already know that for me, Christmas is gone. I have lost the hope this Christmas to be at home with my children and my wife."

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