London, UK, 09/28/2021 / London News Bureau /
Gas stations ran empty in areas of the United Kingdom on Monday as panic purchasing depleted tanks at fuel pumps, whereas the government attempted to address a lack of truck drivers with a drastic post-Brexit immigration policy U-turn.
A 50-car line at a gas station in east London, with some drivers having waited since before daybreak to fill up their vehicles, was seen.
Other stations in the British capital and southeast England merely displayed signs saying “no fuel” and apologized for the outage of pumps.
According to the Petrol Retailers Association, over half of Britain’s 8,000 gasoline pumps were out of petrol on Sunday, as anxious drivers, including critical employees, formed huge lines to fill up.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, stated that while public transportation and emergency services had reserves, hospital and care employees, as well as taxi drivers, were struggling to obtain gasoline to get to work.
The government claims it still has sufficient gasoline but not enough truck drivers to supply it, with skeptics accusing a trucker exodus from Europe following Brexit.
Ministers, on the other hand, claim that the scenario parallels the EU’s driver deficits, which have been aggravated by the coronavirus epidemic, leaving some supermarket shelves bare and increasing concerns about Christmas deliveries.
According to press reports, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering deploying the military to supply fuel to gas stations around the country.
George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, stated that the government is training new truckers using staff from the Ministry of Defence.
He emphasized, though, that there are “no intentions at the present” to conscript the military to drive fuel tankers, instead relying on a new short-term visa waiver initiative to attract international truckers.
“The most important thing is that people buy petrol as they normally would,” he told the media. “The only reason we don’t have petrol … is that people are buying petrol they don’t need.”
This Saturday, the government announced that it will give up to 10,500 temporary work visas to truck drivers and poultry workers in order to alleviate persistent personnel shortages. The short-term visas will be valid from October through late December.
The scenario has been compared to the dark days of the 1970s in Britain, when energy supply issues forced a three-day work week and gasoline restrictions.
It’s also evocative of late 2000, when protesters against rising gasoline prices shut down oil facilities, putting the country to a halt for weeks.
The British government argues that it is not alone in suffering from a shortage of truck drivers, highlighting a scarcity of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) in Poland and Germany, which it blames on employees switching professions during Covid.
The United Kingdom is expected to have a shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers, with warnings from several industries that resources will continue to be scarce.
Shell stated on Monday that it was “working hard to secure supply for consumers.”
“Since Friday we have been seeing a higher than normal demand across our network which is resulting in some sites running low on some (petrol) grades.” it said.