Wednesday, 21 September 2011

No let-up on border queues

GIBRALTAR (GibChronicle by Brian Reyes) Motorbike riders continue to sporadically face queues of an hour or more to cross into Spain. The delays come against the background of an ongoing clampdown on the use of mopeds to smuggle cigarettes. Spanish officials claim this mode of contraband has surged and in response the Guardia Civil is implementing tighter controls at the border, checking all ID cards and carrying out thorough searches of some bikes. There is no pattern to the checks. They don’t happen daily and the start times are staggered, though they tend to focus on late afternoon traffic. On Monday, for example, queues of around an hour started just before 5pm and lasted until past 8pm. Conversely, as this edition closed yesterday the flow of traffic across the border was relatively smooth.>>>
Regular commuters have no way of predicting the delays and are routinely caught up in tailbacks, even if they are not carrying tobacco.

The British government has been in contact with Spanish officials urging them to minimise the impact of the checks on normal frontier traffic.

But despite assurances that everything would be done to do just that, little progress can be seen on the ground.

“We are still engaged with the Spanish government to seek a solution,” said a spokesman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office yesterday.

On the Spanish side of the border though, there is no sign of the checks abating and officials insist they will be in place at least until the end of the month.

In response, the Royal Gibraltar Police has rearranged the traffic organisation for moped riders, who now use the outside car lane in the loop. This lessens the impact of the queue on other border traffic.

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