surinenglish

Malaga lorry driver stuck in Christmas UK border queues tells his story

José Antonio Zamora (centre and closeup) with several colleagues during their wait in England.
José Antonio Zamora (centre and closeup) with several colleagues during their wait in England. / SUR
  • José Antonio Zamora said that the worst problem was the "desperate lack of information" on when and how they could cross into France

A lorry driver from Malaga – one of the thousands of truckers who were stuck in border queues between England and France at Christmas - has told his story.

His name is José Antonio Zamora from Benamocarra in the Axarquía, but he asks that his nickname, Batata, is used.

He has described how, after 76-hours being prevented from moving, he found a shortcut through what he describes as "a goat track" that, after a 60-kilometre detour, allowed him to reach the Eurotunnel terminal to get a train to France.

The border queues.

The border queues. / SUR

His adventure began on Sunday, 20 December at 5pm and he did not start moving again moving until Wednesday at 6pm. During all that time he remained at the Manston airfield.

When he thought the nightmare was over and things did start to move, only 25 kilometres away from the Eurotunnel terminal he found the road blocked by the English police again, and there he spent another nine hours in the middle of nowhere along with thousands of other lorries.

Goat track

“At three in the morning I fell asleep at the wheel full of despair, anger and lack of information, which is the worst of all. When I woke up there were only two trucks left.”

He drove another 1,800 metres and again found the road blocked.

"But I found a road that was like a goat track, and did 50 or 60 more kilometres and ended up at the entrance to the Eurotunnel," he says.

He waited his turn to board one of the trains to cross under the English Channel.

He told several lorry drivers who took the route that the Batata had opened, despite police trying to close it.

The Malaga lorry driver prepares the food inside a trailer.

The Malaga lorry driver prepares the food inside a trailer. / SUR

Food and water were never lacking, thanks to his foresight and he had carried sufficient for several days extra.

In his opinion, the hardest thing was waiting in line without any information, "letting your head fall on the wheel overcome by despair and sleep.”

Christmas

He said, “I spent Christmas Eve in a service area near Calais with another colleague; I warmed myself some broad beans with ham that I bought frozen in Malaga.

“I always carry food for two or three more days just in case I find myself in a situation.

"I had a glass of sweet local wine from El Borge, in the Axarquía, which tasted wonderful.

“I slept very well," he smiled.

On the morning of Christmas Day, he joined another colleague for coffee and two ladies dressed as Santa Claus showed up: "They brought us something like mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and chocolates," he gratefully recalls.

Now he is driving through France towards Toledo, where he has to make a stop to unload before heading back home, where he hopes to arrive next Tuesday.

"I'm crazy to get there" he says.

Eduardo Cabello, manager of the Veleña Cotravelma cooperative, to which Pepe belongs, criticises the current situation.

"Lorries are missing and we are suffering economic losses."

"We have had 16 trucks and 32 drivers trapped," he said.