exacerbated fuel shortage crisis In the UK over the weekend amid “panic buying” from motorists so anxious that the government announced on Monday evening, it had asked the military to stand by for deliveries if needed.
The Ministry of Energy said in a statement on Monday evening, “A limited number of military tanker drivers will be put on alert and deployed if necessary to further stabilize the fuel supply chain.”
Despite the government’s call on the population not to panic, they flocked to gas stations, while some companies indicated that they are facing difficulties in delivery that affect the supply of food in supermarkets, as a result of the repercussions of Covid and Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Also, at a station in Leyton, a neighborhood in east London, 50 cars lined up from 06:30 on Monday, while some consumers spent part of the night waiting for fuel, according to Agence France-Presse.
The situation is also reminiscent of the 1970s, when an energy crisis caused fuel rationing and cut the working week to three days. Two decades ago, protests against rising fuel prices led to the closure of refineries and paralyzed activity in the country for weeks.
Under pressure, the government decided Saturday to adjust its post-Brexit immigration policy and grant up to 10,500 temporary work visas, from October to December, to make up for a severe shortage of truck drivers and staff in key sectors of the British economy, such as poultry farming.
Also, the government has temporarily exempted the fuel distributors sector from competition laws so that they can prioritize delivery to areas where it is most needed.
Petroleum Merchants Association president Brian Maderson has limited the impact of hiring the military because transporting the highly flammable fuel requires “extremely specialized” drivers with specific procedures. Regarding the possibility of European drivers who have returned to their countries due to the pandemic and Brexit, he said that there is also a shortage of drivers in continental Europe.
40 thousand requests
He also referred to the problem of heavy vehicle driving licenses that could not be issued during the quarantine, explaining that “there are 40,000 pending applications for licenses to drive heavy vehicles by the British.”
Although the BP group welcomed the government’s decision to grant an additional number of temporary visas to truck drivers, it warned that “the sector will need time to consolidate deliveries and replenish stocks at sales sites.”
The government insists that there is no shortage of fuel in the country, but rather that the crisis is caused by anxious consumers rushing to buy it, wondering about the alarming statements made by the Federation of Road Transport Companies, which sowed the seeds of panic in them./Reuters