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Long queues and fuel rationing as Britain faces truck driver shortage

CommoditiesSep 25, 2021 18:33
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4/4 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lorries are seen at an HGV parking, at Cobham services on the M25 motorway, Cobham, Britain, August 31, 2021. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra/File Photo 2/4

By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - Lengthy queues of vehicles snaked their way to gas stations in Britain on Saturday where an acute shortage of truck drivers has led to fuel rationing and some pumps running dry, and prompted the government to consider issuing temporary work visas.

Across the country, motorists waited in long lines to fill up their vehicles. One big distributor said it was rationing sales and a number of operators said they were having to close some forecourts, provoking panic-buying.

Government ministers and oil companies say there are ample stocks of petrol or diesel and there is no cause for alarm, but the lack of truck drivers is hampering transport of fuel 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 significant disruption to their supplies in the run-up to Christmas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office has said it is looking at a short-term fix to address the shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.

"We're looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly time limited," a spokeswoman for Johnson's Downing Street office said in a statement.

"Like countries around the world we are suffering from a temporary COVID-related shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around the country."

The UK's Road Haulage Association (RHA) says Britain is facing a shortage of some 100,000 drivers, a result of workers leaving the industry, Brexit and COVID-19, which put a stop to driver training and testing for about a year.

Newspapers have reported that the government would allow up to 5,000 foreign drivers into Britain on short-term visas, a measure that logistics companies and retailers have demanded for months but which the government had previously ruled out.

Business leaders and the haulage industry have welcomed the reported plan, but there are also doubts about whether it will go far enough, or if drivers will come to Britain from Europe where countries are also facing labour shortages.

"We'll have to see if we can attract people for a short period of time," Huw Merriman, chairman of parliament's transport committee, told BBC TV.

Brian Madderson, the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association which represents independent fuel retailers, said he expected the problem to continue for a "while longer".

"I think this situation is going to get worse before it gets better," he told Sky News.

UNPRECEDENTED DEMAND

The issue came to the fore after BP (LON:BP) said it had to close some of its outlets due to the driver shortages, with Shell (LON:RDSa) and ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM)'s Esso also reporting problems with supplies to gas stations.

EG Group, which runs 341 forecourts across Britain, said on Friday it would impose a purchase limit of 30 pounds ($41) per customer for fuel due to the "unprecedented customer demand".

From early on Saturday, motorists began queuing outside filling stations and some forecourts closed as fuel ran out.

"I was out on my bike ... and came past my BP garage and it was chaos," Merriman said. "As soon as the message gets out there might be a fuel shortage, people understandably react."

Police across the country reported congestion caused by motorists waiting in line, and urged people not to contact them about the problems the traffic was causing.

Britain, the world's fifth-largest economy, is also grappling with a spike in European natural gas costs causing soaring energy prices and a potential food supply crunch.

Britain says the long-term solution for the haulage industry is for more British drivers to be hired and for them to be paid better.

($1 = 0.7311 pounds)

Long queues and fuel rationing as Britain faces truck driver shortage
 

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Comments (5)
Matt Hester
Matt Hester Sep 25, 2021 19:50
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Stupid media keep banging on something that was not a real problem, panic the weak minded, now it has become a problem. It was BP saying they had to shut a “few” sites because of delivery delays, now every thicko takes that as a fuel shortage…. The media keep milking it as they have nothing else to do.
Philippe Dye
Philippe Dye Sep 25, 2021 19:22
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not the world over, only the UK. And this far more driven by Brexit than Covid!
Asl Qpr
Asl Qpr Sep 25, 2021 19:22
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Germany and Poland have bigger shortage of hgv drivers so stop your lies, sad people blame Brexit because they are salty losers.
Bala Srini
Bala Srini Sep 25, 2021 19:00
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all due to on line businesses, new warehouses everywhere created this. need full lockdown to reduce petrol crisis 🤣
david scott
david scott Sep 25, 2021 18:28
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it's the same problem the world over, covid
John Jones
John Jones Sep 25, 2021 12:05
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So we need Europeans after all?
Darren Murdock
Darren Murdock Sep 25, 2021 12:05
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We just need a competent government that can assess the situation, plan and act!
Asl Qpr
Asl Qpr Sep 25, 2021 12:05
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Another salty loser, Germany and Poland in worse position then UK, but I guess you can not look things up that do not match your view of things.
ian Chamberlain
ian Chamberlain Sep 25, 2021 12:05
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no, we just need to get the work shy in this country off benefits and into work. 90% of those on benefits would be capable of being trained to do this work, which would be a win win for the country reducing dependence on foreign low skilled labour and reducing the tax bill on benefits. if it takes higher wages to get people into these jobs I'm all for that, accepting my food will cost a little bit more but my taxes go to improving the country rather than pay people to sit at home
ian Chamberlain
ian Chamberlain Sep 25, 2021 12:05
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.......did you see what Sir Kier posted.....we should give as many visas as is needed......really smart...no mention of getting british people into jobs
 
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