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French president lays foundation stone for major Calais extension


France’s president François Hollande will today lay the foundation stone for a major extension to the Port of Calais earmarked for completion in 2021.

The project will require investment approaching €900 million and its centrepiece will be a new 130ha dock, allowing the port to accommodate new-generation ro-ro vessels. The extension will also include the building of an additional 90ha of parking space for trucks and vehicles operating at the port. 

On his arrival in Calais this morning, President Hollande re-iterated that the migrant camp known as  ‘The Jungle’, where an estimated 9,000 migrants live in squalid conditions, must be “dismantled completely, definitively”.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, said she will pursue all legal avenues to prevent a 1 kilometre wall being built along both sides of the ring road leading to the French Channel port and which skirts ‘The Jungle’. This stretch of the road is currently the scene of nightly incursions by migrants attempting to slow down and stop traffic in a bid to board trucks heading for the UK.

Preparatory work on the 4-metre-high wall, which is being paid for by the UK authorities at a cost of £2 million (US$2.6 million), began earlier this month. But Bouchart said she would be signing a municipal order to bring construction to a halt.

“We are already suffering enough without having a wall imposed on us,” she said in an interview on national TV yesterday.

“Calais is becoming enclosed everywhere. They (the state authorities) are going to erect a kilometre-long wall and then tomorrow another kilometre will be added. Where will it end?”

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