Truck driver delayed 16 hours at customs over discrepancy
A Welsh truck driver transporting vital medical supplies into Ireland from the UK has spoken of how he was detained for over 16 hours at the new customs post in Rosslare as a result of a minor error in paperwork. ince Brexit came into effect, there’s been quite a few horror stories from hauliers relating to the complexities of the customs system. Having worked in the industry for some 30 years and having delivered to Ireland from Pembroke twice a week for the past 22 years, truck driver Aled Daniels says that he’s never seen anything like this in his life. Last week Aled was the only truck travelling on an extremely quiet Isle of Inishmore from Pembroke.
Upon entering his pre-boarding number into the Revenue’s system online while onboard, he received notification that he was to stop at the new customs post. When he got there at around 7 p.m., it emerged there was an issue. ‘There was a slight issue with the paperwork,’ Aled explained. ‘We actually employ a third party customs agent because it’s so complicated now.
They said we needed an import declaration and I got onto my boss right away. We had it all in order within two hours.’ However, when the customs agent re-emerged having checked the updated documents, there was another issue.
Carrying a load of hospital beds, mattresses, oxygen concentrators and wheelchairs to be delivered to Swords, Aled was informed that there was a ‘VAT issue on one of the wheelchair parts’. ‘I asked them how much we were talking,’ he recalls. ‘The wheelchairs are probably worth around EUR2,000 and it was only one part, so it was about EUR400 or EUR500. I said, that’s fine I’d pay for it on my card.
I was supposed to be in Swords by 6.30 a.m. They wouldn’t accept that. Then I offered to leave the offending part there, make my delivery and deal with it on the way back and they wouldn’t let me do that.’
The Customs Post in Rosslare
The Customs Post in Rosslare
Frustration began to build as Aled was left stuck in limbo, with customers calling to find out where he was.
‘I pride myself on getting the goods delivered on time and I’ve never once failed in this before,’ he said. ‘Regardless of storms, problems with boats etc, I’ve always found a way over. To be stopped delivering my goods due to a technicality that could have been rectified was unbelievable.’ Running out of options and with the clock ticking, Aled contacted Cllr George Lawlor, who made representations on his behalf and after a little more arguing, he was just told to go ahead – 16 hours after he first rolled into the Rosslare customs yard.
‘This is something that has been made so complicated,’ he said. ‘There’s this big customs yard down there and I was the only truck that travelled over on that sailing. I used to travel to Switzerland a few years back, which is outside the EU, and there was never problems like this. You’d be clear within an hour and a half.
I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Something’s got to give.’ Aled was grateful for the intervention of Cllr George Lawlor, who passed it onto Brendan Howlin to raise in the Dail, resulting in a commitment from Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney that the situation with customs in Rosslare will improve and that facilities will be introduced for customs officers to accept payments by card.
‘The notion that they wouldn’t accept payment from the driver when it was offered is ridiculous,’ Cllr Lawlor said. ‘I understand that they have a very difficult job to do, however we don’t want a situation on top of Brexit where our own authorities are creating difficulties that should be easily resolved.
We need to make passage smooth as possible and if that requires a bit of flexibility, so be it.
Enough damage has been done by Brexit without adding to it.’