Work is set to begin on the construction of a 4m (13ft) concrete wall that will run along both sides of the main road that leads in to the port of Calais. The wall is the latest upgrade to security at the port in an attempt to prevent migrants from the ‘Calais Jungle’ camp from intercepting vehicles heading to the UK It is expected to be operational by the end of this year.
The ‘Great Wall of Calais’ as it had predictably been christened is a joint project between the governments of France and the UK. It will be constructed with smooth concrete to make it difficult to climb, and laughably, will be lined with plants and flowers to – “reduce its visible impact for the local community.”
While it may be a striking and visible strategy, it is also a sticking-plaster to a much bigger problem that will inevitably fail to achieve its most most basic of aims – beyond providing an illusion of strength for populist politicians and as a totem that gives a warm feeling to elements of the Brexit vote. Effectively, the wall will just shift the problem a mile further away from the port.
The Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett said of the wall. that:
It is a poor use of taxpayers money. The money would be much better spent on increasing security along the approach roads.
This position was backed up by DWF, the law firm that represents hauliers claimed that:
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. The real problem is a lack of policing.
The problems at Calais are the result of much wider geopolitical issues that have led to thousands of people traversing the globe – risking life and limb – to escape war, persecution, or just for a better life.
Walls are symbols to appease specific sections of society and to give governments the image of being pro-active on the issue that they supposedly tackle. This is no better illustrated than by the US Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who talks up up his proposed Mexican border wall, at every opportunity, which he uses to secure the ‘Bubba vote.’ The wall in Calais will have much the same impact on the constituency it is designed to appeal to; but will provide very little in the way of being a tangible solution to the much broader issues at hand.
A spokesperson for the French migrant support group. Auberge des Migrants, claimed that –
This wall is the latest extension to kilometres of fencing and security surveillance already in place. It will just result in people going further to get round it. When you put up walls anywhere in the world, people find ways to go around them. Its a waste of money. It could make it more dangerous for people, it will push up tariffs for people smugglers and people will end up taking more risks.
The only beneficiaries from this colossal white-elephant will be the construction firms that are successful in pitching for contracts, as well as the shareholders of ladder wholesalers across northern France.