As gas stations dry up Britons face disruptions to daily life

In the northern English city of Belden, Jag Sangera takes the train to work rather than driving himself, saving on the fuel he needs to take his daughter to kindergarten.

In west London, Uber driver Lad Ibrahim tried at least seven gas stations, one of which opened at 2am and queued for 80 minutes before waiting. Across town, Nick Day said the private ambulance where he works was forced to reduce the number of vehicles on the road from six to four.

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As the government tried to calm the troubled nation on Monday, gas stations across Britain continued to dry up and thousands of Britons found their lives in chaos.

Officials said there was no shortage of fuel and blamed the purchase for the panic. However, analysts say the real cause of the chaos is a chronic shortage of truck drivers to deliver fuel to gas stations, and the government is considering calling in the military to help with deliveries. .

Whatever the reason, Britain’s fuel supplies ran out, rows of vehicles stood on the streets near gas stations and some businesses that depended on fuel suddenly stopped.

In the past Uddin, owner of the Bricklane Minicab taxi service in east London, said he normally employs 10 drivers but only two have turned up since Sunday. Others don’t want to drive too far from their homes for fear of running out of fuel and not being able to go home, he said.

“The situation is very, very bad,” said Uddin, who said gas stations in his area were dry. “I never would have dreamed that something like this would happen in England.”

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The Gasoline Traders Association, which represents independent fuel dealers for 65 percent of the country’s gas stations, said 50 to 90 percent of pumps in some areas were dry, Reuters reported.

On Monday, before ministers met to discuss the crisis, Environment Secretary George Justis said there were no sustainable plans for troops to deploy – a move that could reassure some Britons that the crisis is under control. But worry about others by outlining their extent.

“The reason for the current problem is panic buying and, above all, people are starting to buy gasoline as usual,” Eustis told Sky News, adding that the country had sufficient supplies despite it. There is a problem with the fuel supply.

Critics cited the comments as an attempt to hold British citizens accountable at least in part for government policies such as curbing immigration from EU countries after Brexit.

And across the UK, government guarantees don’t disappoint much.

Sangera, a 36-year-old actor in Balden, West Yorkshire, said he went to several stations on Sunday to fill his tank and took his two-year-old daughter to his preschool to prepare for a week’s work. . He went on to say that there was only diesel fuel.

“I feel bad knowing that I’m going to waste the gas my daughter can take to the crib and back for at least today,” she said.

Mr Sanghera’s tank was nearly empty on Monday when a local Facebook page warned him that there was petrol at a nearby gas station.

But as a precaution, he took the train to work instead of the car so the gas could be used “for my daughter’s room and vice versa”.

Tanveer Minhas was met with chaotic scenes when he arrived at his local station in south London on Sunday.

“There is a traffic jam, there are at least two roads lining up and they are coming from opposite directions,” said Minhas. On Monday the station was empty and the pumps had a yellow sign indicating that they were no longer operating.

“I know there is a shortage of drivers, but two years ago when we had the coronavirus pandemic, everyone panicked and now it’s back again,” he said. “This is ridiculous.”

Since Brexit took Britain out of the EU’s single economic zone, it has been difficult for companies to hire drivers from the bloc independently as they did before separating from the mainland. The longstanding shortage of truck drivers has also been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has delayed the issuance of new driver’s licenses.

Ministers say the solution is to train more drivers and increase wages and tough working conditions.

But that is a long-term perspective and requires the government to change its policies and offer foreign truck drivers 5,000 temporary work visas and suspend antitrust rules so oil companies can gather information about shipments and coordinate shipments. forced to do it.

The use of military drivers will increase significantly, but industry experts suspect the failure will end too soon.

Brian Maderson, president of the Association of Gasoline Retailers, told the BBC that “background training is ongoing for military personnel,” but added that moving supplies from point to point, not just loading and unloading, would likely be useful. Fuel, skilled work that requires training.

“There is not a single lever that government and industry have put together to tackle this situation,” he said. “They are small levers, each of which contributes a little to what happens.”

Paul Mumory, a spokesman for the Road Transport Association, which represents road freight companies, said the military has about 2,000 skilled drivers and many of them would not have the civilian fuel tank certificates currently required.

“We have to find out who they are, get them out of what they’re doing, get them to Gray Street,” he said, referring to the non-military world, “and connect them to business.”

“I suspect it can’t be used today,” said Pak Mamari.

In addition, the industry group has yet to receive details of the government’s plans to issue 5,000 short-stay visas to foreign truck drivers, regardless of whether documents are required or permits are being processed. The government said it would try to process visas within 15 days of applying.

The visa will be valid for three months under the scheme, but Mr Mummer’s group believes that a six month period would be more practical given the time it takes to process the application. “From a three-month perspective, how attractive is it to drivers from abroad?” Maybe not much,” said Pak Mamri.

There seems to be hope in the government and the fuel industry that the UK, with their gas tanks full, will return to their usual buying habits and slowly return to normal.

The major fuel companies said in a joint statement on Monday: “As many cars now contain more fuel than usual, we expect demand to normalize in the coming days and thus lighten gas station front yards. . “It will do.”

However, this is far from certain.

“We are 100 per cent focused on our sales activities and delivery across the country,” said Alan Davison, Managing Director of Hoyer Petrolog UK, the UK’s leading fuel distributor.

“However, as long as people continue to buy or store fuel they don’t need, gas stations will be difficult.”