From Monday, Britain will deploy military tanker drivers to deliver fuel to gas stations, many of which remained empty Friday after a chaotic week that led to a surge in purchases due to panic, residents fighting at gas stations and protesters. The driver collects gas supplies in water bottles.
The acute shortage of truck drivers weighing on the supply chain is hitting a breaking point, prompting the government on Friday to say that 200 military tanker personnel, 100 of them drivers, will complete their training over the weekend and begin deliveries of fuel on Monday.
“As the situation stabilizes, our military will fill any critical vacancies and help the country operate by supporting industry to deliver fuel to the field,” Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said.
Labor shortages in some sectors post-Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have wreaked havoc in several sectors of the economy, disrupted deliveries of fuel and medicine and abandoned 100,000 pigs on farms.
Retailers said more than 2,000 gas stations were empty, and Reuters reporters in London and southern England said dozens of gas stations were still closed.
Long lines of angry drivers line up for a gas station that is still open in London.
“I’m really fed up. Why isn’t the country ready for anything?” said Ata Uriakhil, a 47-year-old Afghan-born taxi driver who was the first in a line of more than 40 cars outside a closed supermarket gas station in Richmond.
“When will this end?. The politicians are not able to do their job well. The government should be ready to face this crisis. This is because of the problem of incompetence (of the government),” he lamented.
Uriahhil says he has lost about 20% of his normal income this week waiting for fuel rather than picking up customers.
The Association of Gasoline Retailers (PRA) said its members on Friday reported that 26 percent of gas stations were empty, 27 percent had only one type of fuel supply and 47 percent had sufficient gasoline and diesel. [my/pp]