Government ministers have ordered the deployment of troops to deliver petrol and diesel within days, in a dramatic escalation of the national fuel crisis, with pumps running dry and prices hitting eight-year highs.
At an emergency meeting in Whitehall, ministers agreed to keep military tanker drivers in a position ready to take the wheel of civilian tankers if normalcy does not return swiftly. Defense sources said 75 drivers have been kept on standby initially, and 75 more if needed require several days of specialized training before deployment with 150 support staff.
Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps issued an extension to driver licenses, temporarily freeing tanker drivers from the requirement to take refresher training courses every five years. The validity of the license expiring before the new year will be extended till January 31, 2022 to provide immediate relief from driver shortage.
Government ministers issued a plea to the public for peace, insisting that panic buying was unnecessary as there was no shortage of fuel in Britain. And he was backed by fuel delivery leaders, who said they believed supplies would return to normal within a few days.
But the man set to replace Angela Merkel as Germany’s chancellor said the crisis – which has led industry sources to warn of a 100,000 reduction in HGV drivers – was only expected to result from Brexit and lower wages in the UK.
“We worked very hard to persuade the British not to leave the Union,” said SPD leader Olaf Scholz. “Now they took a different decision and I hope they manage the problems that come with it.”
He continued: “If you consider that being a trucker is really something that a lot of people love to be and you think that’s not enough [are applying], it has something to do with working conditions and that is something that needs to be thought about.”
Queues continued to form at petrol stations across the country, reports of fighting at pumps and police appealed to motorists not to misbehave with attendants.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /