Â© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Trucks are seen in a truck parking lot, at Cobham Services on the M25 motorway, Cobham, Great Britain August 31, 2021. REUTERS / Peter Cziborra / File Photo
By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) – Long lines of vehicles headed to gas stations in Britain on Saturday, where a severe shortage of truck drivers has led to fuel rationing and some dry pumps, and prompted the government to consider issuing temporary work visas.
Across the country, motorists lined up to refuel their vehicles. A large distributor has said it is rationing sales and a number of operators have said they have to close some forecourt, causing panic buying.
Government ministers and oil companies say there are plentiful stocks of gasoline or diesel and there is no cause for concern, but lack of truck drivers is hampering fuel transportation from refineries to gas stations.
With retailers https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/britain-resolve-trucker-shortage-swiftly-minister-says-2021-09-24 also warning of a significant disruption to their supplies as they approach Christmas Day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said it was considering a short-term solution to address the shortage of truck drivers.
“We are considering temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly limited in time,” a spokeswoman for Johnson’s office in Downing Street said in a statement.
“Like countries around the world, we are suffering from a temporary shortage of COVID-related drivers needed to get supplies across the country.”
The UK’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) says Britain faces a shortage of some 100,000 drivers, due to the departure of workers in the sector, Brexit and COVID-19, which put an end to training and driving tests for about a year.
Newspapers reported the government would allow up to 5,000 foreign drivers to enter Britain on short-term visas, a move logistics companies and retailers have been calling for months but the government had previously ruled out.
Business leaders and the transport industry have welcomed the announced plan, but there are also doubts whether it will go far enough, or whether the drivers will come to Britain from Europe where the countries are also facing labor shortages.
“We will have to see if we can attract people for a short time,” Huw Merriman, chairman of the parliamentary transport committee, told BBC TV.
Brian Madderson, president of the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent fuel retailers, said he expected the problem to persist “a little longer.”
“I think this situation will get worse before it gets better,” he told Sky News.
The issue came to the fore after BP (NYSE 🙂 said it had to shut down some of its outlets due to the shortage of drivers, Shell (LON 🙂 and Esso from ExxonMobil (NYSE 🙂 also reporting problems with the supply of gas stations. .
EG Group, which operates 341 gas stations across Britain, said on Friday it would impose a purchase limit of 30 pounds ($ 41) per customer for fuel due to “unprecedented customer demand “.
As of Saturday morning, motorists began to queue in front of gas stations and some forecourt closed because the fuel ran out.
âI was on my bikeâ¦ and I drove past my BP garage and it was chaos,â Merriman said. “As soon as the message goes out there could be a fuel shortage, people are responding naturally.”
Police across the country have reported traffic jams caused by motorists queuing and urging people not to contact them about the problems the traffic is causing.
Britain, the world’s fifth-largest economy, is also grappling with soaring European costs causing soaring energy prices and possibly tightening food supplies.
Britain says the long-term solution for the trucking industry is to hire more UK drivers and pay them better.
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