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Lorry drivers speak of relief as they head home after days of chaos at Port of Dover over Covid-19 border closure

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"I'm never coming back here," declared one irate lorry driver as he finally made his way home.

He was sat in a monstrous queue along Dover seafront as a military operation continues to clear the 6,000-lorry backlog which has built up in Kent since French President Emmanuel Macron shut the border on Sunday.

Leigh Serjeant is on his way home

Others reacted with relief but also aired their frustrations at being stranded in a town where the public toilets were locked throughout.

So far 2,300 drivers have tested negative for coronavirus, while three have tested positive and must isolate.

Many are now resigned to spedning Christmas away from their families and face days at Manston Airport or on the M20.

Problems at the port persist, with logistical issues meaning ferry operator DFDS has only been able to repatriate 144 drivers since yesterday morning despite having capacity for 4,000.

Testing takes place at the Port of Dover
Testing takes place at the Port of Dover

Leigh Sarjeant, and English driver based in Bulgaria, said: "I'm quite excited, my families back home waiting for me but it's disappointing we won't be back for Christmas."

He added that he wouldn't be home to see his wife, eight-year-old twins and nine-year-old until Sunday.

"The people of Dover have been very good to us but there has been no means of going to the toilet since we arrived."

The clean up effort has begun today in surrounding streets amid calmer scenes than yesterday when frustrated hauliers clashed with police and blockaded the port - with one dragged out of the road and another arrested.

Romanian Vasile Constantin-Gabriel struck a more downbeat tone: "I never want to come back here again. We have been here four days with no food, no water, no toilets, no showers, nothing."

Andrew Lewandowski, of Poland, complained that he was given a test and told to wait 24 hours only to be phoned by a person who told him results may take five days.

Vasile Constantin-Gabriel says he is never coming back to the UK

Luckily he was on a ferry this morning.

Hundreds of drivers are sat in 46 miles of Operation Stack, which has seen the majority of the M20 closed between Maidstone and Folkestone.

While Manston, with room for 3,800, has been full for the last day while drivers get tested.

While the chaotic scenes of yesterday seem to have passed the scale of the task at hand is still daunting.

The port, traditional shut on Christmas Day, will open but a schedule of crossings is not available while transport secretary Grant Shapps urged patience.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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