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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 10:35 GMT
Queues at dock for lorry drivers
Lorries at Southampton Docks
The FTA says the government must increase capacity
Lorry drivers claim that bad working practices in Southampton docks are threatening their livelihoods.

They say they are waiting up to nine hours to unload their containers, with no toilets or catering facilities.

The terminal's managing director said: "This is the peak of our year with imports coming in for Christmas. The situation should ease in a few weeks."

The Freight Transport Association says the government must increase capacity via another berth, terminal or port.

Lorry driver Martin Skuse said: "It took me seven hours to get into the dock and back out again.

Lorries at Southampton Docks
Drivers claim they are waiting up to nine hours to get into the docks

"Six hours waiting in the queue and another hour waiting to get my container lifted off.

"They cannot cope with the amount of traffic they are getting in the dock. The system doesn't work"

Derek Smith, Managing Director of Southampton Container Terminals, said: "We have to look at those cases but the average is only two hours.

"We are trying to improve the situation."

Dr Andrew Traill, head of maritime policy at the Freight Transport Association, blamed congestion on the increased volume of imported goods from the far east, particularly China.

"Congestions breeds inefficiency which leads to higher costs.

"Clearly the government has a role in ensuring capacity is increased, be it another berth, another terminal, or perhaps even another port."

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