Gibraltar border queue

Gibraltar border queue

Forget traffic on the M25 or roadworks back in the UK.  Roadworks are a necessary evil of everyday life, traffic congestion from too many cars are just the normal everyday nightmare of the average commuter.

But can citizens back in the UK even begin to imagine the traffic jams here in Gibraltar and what causes them?  Below is a shot of the live runway with commuters queuing for hours to get out of Gibraltar for the weekend.  Delays by the spanish customs stopping every single car for as long as possible in retaliation to political protest from the UK and Gibraltar over the spanish incursion into UK waters on Thursday 25th July.

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Spanish patrol boat at the end of Gibraltar runway in UK waters

UK and Spanish authorities in stand off at the end of Gibraltar runway in UK waters

UK and Spanish authorities in stand off at the end of Gibraltar runway in UK waters

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Thursday”s incident

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Thursday’s incident

 

Drivers were forced to queue for hours in blistering heat yesterday as Spain tightened its border controls in the wake of the standoff at sea on Thursday.

The tailback hit Gibraltarians, Spaniards and tourists alike, forcing the Royal Gibraltar Police to recall personnel to implement diversions and beachside holding areas. The standstill came after British and Spanish diplomats exchanged words over Thursday’s events (photographed above by gibraltar-tourism.com) at sea in the Bay of Gibraltar.

A spokesman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office confirmed Britain’s protest to Spain over the actions of Spanish Guardia Civil vessels at sea off the runway.

In turn, Spain’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs confirmed that its director general for foreign policy, Ignacio Ybáñez, had contacted Britain’s ambassador to Madrid, Giles Paxman, to complain about the reef and restate Spain’s position on the waters.

Last night a spokesman for the Convent said British officials in London and Madrid had pressed the Spanish government to take action to relieve the border queue.

“The state of delays at the border is of great concern,” the spokesman said.

“The Governor is personally in touch with the FCO and has urged that every effort is made to restore and maintain freedom of movement at the border.”

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo slammed the Spanish tactic of using the border to exert pressure on Gibraltar to the detriment of normal people.

“It’s a typical, childish reaction from Spain,” he said.

At 8.45pm last night, the queue snaked from the border all way to Catalan Bay, where the police had established holding areas. There was also gridlock on parts of Line Wall road and other main routes in the northern part of Gibraltar.

As the extent of the queues became evident late afternoon, the Gibraltar Government despatched a water bowser and ferried waters bottles to the border area.

Members of the Defenders of Gibraltar distributed water to the occupants of trapped vehicles.

The sweltering heat made the wait insufferable for those caught up in the traffic chaos.

“This is inexcusable,” said Marie, a Spanish woman from La Linea who spent four hours in the queue and at 8pm was still waiting at Catalan Bay.

“It’s absolutely horrible.”

The queues immediately began to generate international media interest and a furious response on social media. Tarik el Yabani captured the mood on Twitter.

“We ask, nay, DEMAND the British government fulfill its constitutional duties and defend Gibraltar,” he wrote.

“This is unacceptable in modern day Europe.”

The queues were caused by extreme checks by Guardia Civil officers at the border post.

For hour after hour, every single car was being stopped and pulled over by the Spanish officers. Motorbike riders were also being checked one at a time.

La Linea’s fishermen said they would claim compensation from the Spanish Government for the loss of a fishing ground off Gibraltar’s runway.

Leoncio Fernández, head of the La Linea fisherman’s guild, said the artificial reef had been laid “…with the knowledge of the Spanish authorities, which permitted it to happen.”

He added that Spanish authorities had failed to stop the reef-laying operation from going ahead, hence the compensation claim.

Quotes’s from Gibraltar Chronicle.

John Middleton – gibraltartourism@europe.com

 

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