UK army on standby over fuel shortage crisis & panic buying

Residents have been panic buying.

Matthias Ang | September 28, 2021, 09:12 PM

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The UK has put its army on standby amidst a panic buying of fuel, with reports of long queues and shortages reported at petrol stations, The Guardian reported.

The measure was announced by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who added that army drivers are ready to deliver petrol and diesel on a short-term basis.

The BBC reported that up to 150 military tankers are preparing to deliver fuel to petrol stations that have run dry.

Why is the UK experiencing panic buying?

According to Reuters, the UK is suffering from a shortage of about 100,000 truck drivers (according to the BBC), which has resulted in stocks of fuel not reaching petrol stations, as well as major supply problems for restaurants and retailers.

Panic-buying started from Sep. 25 onwards after oil firm British Petroleum (BP) announced that it had to "temporarily" close some of its petrol stations as a result of the driver shortage.

A fight was also reported.

Meanwhile, the AA (breakdown services) said that it had attended to 250 breakdown incidents over Sep. 25 and Sep. 26, a 500 per cent increase from a daily average of 20-25 incidents, due to people filling their cars with the wrong kind of fuel, The Guardian further reported.

Deutsche Welle (DW) reported that the UK environment ministry has clarified that the country is not a facing an actual shortage of fuel, but only disruptions at the points of delivery, as a result of consumers buying fuel they did not need.

The UK's Environment Secretary, George Eustice, was quoted as saying, "The only reason we don't have petrol in forecourts (petrol stations) is that people are buying petrol when they don't need it."

Why is the UK facing a shortage of truck drivers?

According to the BBC, many non-British European drivers have left the country following Brexit, over the additional layer of border bureaucracy and the impact on their income.

The exodus of truck drivers was then exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis, with few returning to the UK.

Retired older drivers have also not been replaced due to a backlog of prospective lorry drivers waiting to pass the UK's driving test for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV), as a result of the pandemic.

In the meantime, the UK government has stated that it will issue 5,000 three-month visas for truck drivers, beginning in October, as part of an attempt to address the shortage, DW reported.

A million letters have also been sent to drivers with a HGV licence, encouraging them to return to the industry, while training for 4,000 more HGV drivers has been planned.

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Top screenshot from Channel 4 News YouTube