London, Sep 7 (IANS) Construction of a UK-funded wall near Calais’ Jungle migrant camp in France will begin soon, a minister said on Wednesday.
Dubbed the “Great Wall of Calais” by the media, the four metre wall will run for one km along both sides of the main road to Calais port, BBC reported.
Home Office Minister Robert Goodwill said security around the port was being “stepped up with better equipment”, adding the wall will protect the road from disruption by migrants, thousands of whom are living at the Jungle camp.
According to the BBC, work is expected to start this month, with the wall due to be finished by the end of the year, and any existing fences will not be replaced.
The government did not confirm the cost of the wall, but reports suggest a 1.9 million pounds price tag — to be paid for out of 17 million pounds announced by then British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year.
Speaking to the Home Affairs Committee of MPs on Tuesday, Goodwill said: “The security that we are putting in at the port is being stepped up with better equipment.
“We are going to start building this big new wall very soon. We’ve done the fence; now we are doing a wall.”
However, Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, called the plan a “poor use of taxpayers’ money”.
He said that funding for a wall “would be much better spent on increasing security along the approach roads”.
Vikki Woodfine, of law firm DWF, works with many hauliers and said a wall “isn’t the answer”.
“It is simply a knee-jerk reaction that is unlikely to make a difference in the long run — particularly since the route to the Calais port is already surrounded by fences and barbed wire,” she said, adding the “real problem” was a lack of policing.
“Chaos reigns in the Calais region, yet hauliers are being fined up to 4,000 pounds per migrant found in their vehicle,” she added.
Many of the migrants living at the Jungle and other camps in northern France attempt to reach the UK by boarding lorries as they approach ports or the Eurotunnel.
Numerous fences have been built to protect the port, and the Eurotunnel terminal and train tracks on the other side of Calais.
On Monday, French lorry drivers and farmers blockaded the main motorway route into Calais in a protest calling for the closure of the Jungle.