Shortage Of Truck Drivers In UK Leads To Gas Rationing
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.
Photo Insert: Truck traffic along the UK motorway
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, Michael Holden and Guy Faulconbridge reported for Reuters.
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 the transport of fuel from refineries to gas stations.
With retailers 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 measure 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.
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.