UK puts military on hold as panic buying hits fuel supply
* Army tanker pilots to deploy if necessary
* Truck driver shortage hit supply chains
* Government says it will extend some heavy truck licenses
* Minister and industry say panic buying is easing
By Michael Holden
LONDON, September 27 (Reuters) – The UK government has announced it is putting the military on hold as part of additional measures to deal with a supply chain crisis that has caused fuel pumps to dry up amid the panicking shopping of motorists.
The move to mobilize the military comes after a widespread shortage of truck drivers, which has led to serious supply issues for retailers and restaurants in recent months, has resulted in plentiful stocks of fuel failing. reached gas stations.
A fuel shortage warning at the end of last week led to panic buying, with long lines of cars waiting hours to fill up, and pumps in cities across Britain have dried up.
The government had previously announced plans to issue temporary visas to 5,000 foreign truck drivers, suspend competition laws and encourage former drivers to return to the industry as part of measures to deal with the labor shortage.
He said he would now put a limited number of military tanker operators on readiness to be deployed if necessary.
“While the fuel industry expects demand to return to normal levels in the coming days, it is only right that we take this reasonable precautionary step,” Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said on Monday in a statement. communicated.
“If necessary, the deployment of military personnel will provide the supply chain with additional capacity as a temporary measure to help alleviate pressures caused by spikes in localized demand for fuel.”
Army tanker drivers will receive specialized training before they are deployed to help resolve supply chain issues, the government said.
Demand for fuel has meant 50 to 90% of pumps were dry in parts of Britain, according to the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents independent fuel retailers who make up 65% of all 8 380 British forecourts.
The fuel industry says there is no shortage and the problem is transporting gasoline and diesel to the forecourt.
“As many cars now contain more fuel than usual, we expect demand to return to normal levels in the coming days, easing the pressure on gas station forecourts. We encourage everyone to buy fuel as usual, ”said a joint. declaration of fuel companies.
However, carriers, gas stations and retailers say there is no silver bullet because the shortage of truck drivers – estimated at around 100,000 – was so severe, and because the transportation of fuel requires additional training and licensing.
The government said it was also extending the specific licenses for heavy goods vehicles (heavy goods vehicles), which allow drivers to carry fuel, for those whose licenses were due to expire within the next three months to allow them to continue working without have to take refresher courses.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps said they were already seeing demand slowing at gas stations as the public responded to the message not to buy fuel unnecessarily.
“Even though the current network of tanker drivers is able to provide all the fuel we need, we have gone one step further by asking the military to help us bridge the gap, while new drivers from HGVs come into service thanks to all the other measures we have “already taken”, he said. (Report by Michael Holden edited by Alistair Bell)