Pedestrians waited 45 minutes to leave Gibraltar on Tuesday. :: E.b
Gibraltar government chiefs have announced a raft of new measures to help ease border queues - following recommendations by the EU inspectors.
In the statement released on Tuesday 27 May ministers also urged EU bosses to put an end to “inhumane” delays at the frontier.
But on the day the statement was published pedestrians leaving the British territory at around 6pm were welcomed by some of the longest queues this year, with many waiting up to 45 minutes to leave Gibraltar.
Motorists were also left sounding their horns in frustration as queuing time peaked at one and a half hours to cross the frontier.
The new measures follow recommendations made to Gibraltar and Spain by the European Commission to ease border delays, after a visit last November.
Both sides were later given a six-month period to implement the changes, a deadline that expired on 15 May.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, said: “The reality is that the Commission’s recommendations appear to have been ignored by Spain.
“Although we have seen some drawings published in some Spanish newspapers of proposed changes to the flow of traffic at the frontier, no works have been commenced. We are concerned that, as usual, Spain will simply seek to procrastinate and do nothing while trying to strangle the Gibraltar economy.”
One of the ten new measures that has already been adopted is an increase in tobacco duty from £12 to £13, for 200 cigarettes.
Other changes include: 18 new CCTV cameras and 4 Automatic Number Plate Recognition devices at the border, a reduction in tobacco licensing hours, a limit on the amount of cigarettes that can be kept in retail establishments, electronically controlled vehicle and pedestrian access gates, the creation of control points for each of the vehicle lanes exiting Gibraltar, the creation of two further vehicle entry points into Gibraltar, an increase in the number of Customs Officers, increased operations on land and sea to curb illegal smuggling, a reduction in the number of cigarettes that can be carried per person from 1000 to 200 cigarettes and the creation of a new offence of concealing tobacco in a motor vehicle.
The statement also announced an in-depth study into the implications of Gibraltar’s inclusion into the EU Common Customs Territory (CCT), while a list of officers on the Rock ready to cooperate with their Spanish counterparts has been made available to Spain. The statement added that the improvement of flow across the border is something that Spain could do immediately, without waiting for infrastructure works on their side.
Border control issues
As reported in SUR in English on May 16, the Gibraltar government sent 500 complaints about the queues to the European Commission earlier this month – following months of lengthy queues at the frontier.
The following week Spain announced it would strengthen border controls over claims that tobacco smuggling has increased since the EU inspection.
This came despite an appeal from the Junta de Andalucía’s head of cabinet Manuel Jiménez Barrios, who appealed for an easier transit from one side to the other – as local Spanish businesses are suffering.
Anyone affected by the border queues is advised to email their complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org.