A severe fuel shortage has hit the UK due to shortage of truck drivers needed to move fuel from depots to gas stations. Pump stations are now besieged by cars looking to fill up their tanks, and there is wild panic buying in the air. Some gas stations have shut down, and many others are rationing sales to motorists.
The government said the shortage of petrol truck drivers is the main reason for the fuel shortage. Downing Street said there is enough fuel in the country, and oil companies also confirm there is abundant fuel to power the country. But they blame shortage of truck drivers on their inability to deliver the fuel to gas stations. Thousands of fuel trucks are available to move the fuel, but there are no drivers to drive them.
“The public should be reassured there are no shortages,” a government spokeswoman said. “But like countries around the world, we are suffering from a temporary COVID-related shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around the country.”
To deal with this problem, the government is looking at hiring up to 5,000 foreign workers to work as truck drivers in the UK. The workers will be issued temporary work visas to work in the country until the situation is easy. Although the UK’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) said the UK needs about 100,000 more truck drivers, the government is not willing to hire as many drivers from Europe.
The government prefers to hire more British drivers to fill the gap on a permanent basis than foreign drivers. But given the fact that driving is a low-paid job in the country, most Brits do not want to do the job. Moreover, those who desire to do it have not been cleared because they have not completed their truck driving training because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ve continually allowed our domestic market to underperform by essentially having wages undercut by people coming in prepared to do the job for less, and in pretty bad conditions sometimes,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps disclosed. “And that’s the wider picture that we’re determined to resolve.”
Analysts said the fact that the UK left the EU is also part of the problem since many Europeans left the country and returned to their respective countries. The government is also looking to explore other ways to ameliorate the situation so that a lot of the people can improve since the fuel shortage is also affecting businesses.