Delays for travellers heading towards Dover eased yesterday but motorists have been warned to expect disruption for weeks to come.
Holidaymakers endured hours on gridlocked roads at the weekend. Some spent the night in their cars as they tried in vain to get to the port.
There could, however, be some some delays over the next few weeksKent Police
By yesterday afternoon Kent police said the situation had returned to normal, with those on the roads facing a wait of about 30 minutes on the A20 approach to Dover.
UK Border Force officials have been drafted in to work with French border police after the government admitted that motorists had suffered “extraordinary disruption” as the great summer getaway began on Friday. At one stage there were 12-mile tailbacks and travellers endured long waits of up to 15 hours.
Police said the disruption was down to a “vast volume of holiday traffic” coupled with delays caused by heightened security at the border in the wake of terrorist attacks.
Increased checks were put in place by French authorities but questions were raised about staffing levels to deal with the huge number of travellers.
After complaints that just one French officer was available to check in coaches on Friday night into Saturday, port authorities said six booths – four for cars, one for coaches and one for freight traffic – were manned overnight into yesterday.
Police said the “large volume” of holiday traffic coupled with heightened security checks “could however mean some delays over the next few weeks”.
They had initially predicted severe disruption could last into today.
Water supplies were dropped along the jam by police helicopter on Saturday, as motorists rationed food and drink during the standstill.
A Sikh humanitarian relief organisation also pitched in, delivering nearly 6,000 bottles of water along with snacks to the stranded motorists.
Conservative MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke, who was stuck in traffic for around two hours on Friday evening, said there had been a lack of forward planning which led to “poor transport management” and urged the government to apologise.