A shortage of truck drivers has left fuel pumps empty across the country, leading to long lines and panic at gas stations.
LONDON – Drivers in the UK rush to gas stations to refuel amid a fuel shortage. Long lines at gas stations and rising fuel prices are the latest challenges facing the country as it emerges from the pandemic.
See what’s happening here.
Is this the 1970s over again? Why is there a shortage of gas?
In London and other parts of the UK, gas stations (here referred to as “petrol stations”) have run out of supply. The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent fuel retailers, said its members had reported that 50 to 90 percent of pumps were dry in some areas, according to Reuters.
The shortage has drawn comparisons to the global energy crises of the 1970s, when OPEC’s oil embargo caused widespread fuel shortages. But unlike those times, the current shortage is not fuel, but drivers trained to deliver it.
Truckers are getting older, and they are retiring. At the same time, driver trainees are facing delays in obtaining licenses due to the pandemic. Transport companies are reported to have increased their salaries by 25 percent or more this year to retain truck drivers.
The shortage has also created problems for restaurants, which are struggling to obtain food, and grocery stores, which are unable to fill shelves.
Concerned over reports of empty gas stations, drivers have also been panic buying fuel in recent days, adding to the shortage.
Brexit is a contributing factor, but not the only problem.
Britain’s withdrawal from the EU has made the labor shortage worse, but it is not the only reason. The Road Haulage Association, a trade association of road transport operators, estimates that the UK is facing a shortage of 100,000 drivers. About 20 per cent of them are drivers who left the UK after voting to leave the EU.
In an effort to attract drivers, the government has increased the number of hours they can work per day and has accelerated the licensing process. It has also offered 5,000 three-month work visas to foreign truck drivers and suspension of rules that prevent oil companies from coordinating deliveries.
But some government critics say it may not be enough to address a long-running shortage of drivers. Around 200,000 EU citizens left the UK during the pandemic, on top of thousands left since 2016, when Britain voted in a referendum to leave the EU and indicated it would block immigration from Will put a limit on This has made it difficult for companies – including those in the transportation, hospitality and food supply sectors – to fill vacancies with foreign workers.
The army is on standby as the situation worsens.
The government has urged calm and said there were temporary signs that the situation was beginning to stabilize. Officials are hoping the normal buying pattern will now resume as many Britons have eased pressure on supplies to fill their tanks over the past few days.
But if the fuel crisis worsens, the government has put 150 military tanker drivers on standby.
Taxi drivers, food suppliers and others whose livelihoods depend on driving said they are still worried. The teachers’ union said in a statement on Tuesday that the fuel shortage has caused serious difficulties for teachers and urged the government to prioritize teachers’ access to gas.
Brian Maderson, president of the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent fuel retailers in Britain, told the BBC on Tuesday that drivers were vacating the station within hours of the new delivery.
He said his members would not limit fuel purchases, which some gas stations have done this week, because they did not want to risk a collision with drivers.
“I am afraid to say that there is still a lot of panic across the country,” he told the BBC.
“As a tanker arrives at a filling station, people on social media are advising that a tanker has arrived, and then it is like a honey pot like bees. Everybody swarm there,” said Mr. Maderson. “Within a few hours it’s out again.”