A blockade of Calais by French lorry drivers planned for Monday is set to bring chaos to British travellers.
Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart warned that the Channel port would be hit by serious disruption because of protests demanding the abolition of the northern part of the so-called Jungle migrant camp.
The protests are planned to begin at about 7am on Monday, when different groups will unite to block the A16 motorway in a “snail” operation to halt the movement of traffic.
Shopkeepers, police unionists and French farmers plan to join hauliers in a “human chain” aimed at pressing the authorities to close part of the camp where thousands of migrants are living.
The hauliers are staging their protest over increasing threats from migrants and organised gangs, who in recent weeks have been holding up lorries approaching the port.
They have been blocking roads with trees and other obstacles to allow migrants to climb on board vehicles heading for the UK. Gangmasters also direct migrants to lorries queueing in the ensuing traffic jams so they can attempt to stow away.
Bouchart said during a visit to Kent that she would join the protest as the situation had become “unbearable”.
She was reported in The Times as saying: “There might be chaos and disorder on Monday. This is for a good cause. We want things to change.
“There is chaos every day and every night. We want the French government to take its responsibilities and put an end to this particularly difficult time we are facing.”
She promised she would turn out to support the protesters to “show solidarity” with the hauliers and locals living and working in the area.
The mayor met business leaders in Ashford at an event aimed at fostering stronger cross-border relations.
Despite efforts to reduce numbers, more than 7,000 migrants originating from countries such as Sudan, Syria and Eritrea are living in the Jungle on the outskirts of Calais.
P&O Ferries operations director, Sue Mackenzie, said: “The safety of our customers is our absolute priority.
“Every passenger using the port of Calais has a right to expect a secure and efficient passage.
“We will continue to do everything we can with the French authorities to ensure a safe and secure environment.”