Pumps run dry at service stations in Britain

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  • Dry petrol stations in major UK cities
  • Truck driver shortage is straining UK economy
  • German Scholz: we told the UK not to Brexit
  • Health workers should be given priority, doctors union says

LONDON, Sept. 27 (Reuters) – Gas station pumps dried up in major UK cities on Monday and vendors rationed sales as a shortage of truckers strained supply chains in the world’s fifth-largest economy .

Serious post-Brexit shortage of truck drivers revealed as COVID-19 pandemic abates has wreaked havoc on UK supply chains in everything from food to fuel, raising the specter of disruptions and spikes in price as Christmas approaches.

Drivers lined up for hours to fill up their cars at petrol stations that still served fuel, though often rationed, and there were calls for National Health Service (NHS) workers to be given priority , to keep hospitals open as the pandemic continues.

“As the pumps dry up, there is a real risk that NHS staff will not be able to do their jobs and provide life-saving care and services to those in urgent need,” said the Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the Board of the British Medical Association.

Pumps in British cities were either closed or had signs indicating that fuel was not available on Monday, Reuters reporters said, with some limiting the amount of fuel each customer could buy.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents independent fuel retailers who now make up 65% of all UK forecourts, said its members had reported that 50% to 90% of pumps were dry in some areas.

“We need some calm,” Gordon Balmer, executive director of PRA, who worked for BP (BP.L) for 30 years, told Reuters. “Please don’t panic, buy: if people drain the network, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) said it had seen higher than usual demand for fuel on its UK network and that some sites were lacking certain grades of fuel.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said there was no shortage of fuel, urged people to stop buying in panic and said there were no plans to drive trucks by the military, although the Department of Defense would help test the truckers.

A Shell gas station running out of gas is seen in Northwich, Britain on May 27, 2021. REUTERS / Molly Darlington

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Carriers, gas stations and retailers have warned that there is no quick fix, because the shortage of truck drivers – estimated at around 100,000 – is so severe, and because the transportation of fuel requires additional training and licensing.

BREXIT CRUNCH?

For months, supermarkets, processors and farmers have warned that a shortage of truck drivers is straining supply chains, making it harder to put goods on shelves.

Amid warnings of a terrible winter to come, some European Union politicians have linked supply chain stress to the 2016 Brexit referendum and Britain’s subsequent decision to seek a relationship remote with the block.

“Free movement of workers is part of the European Union, and we have tried to convince the British not to leave the Union,” said Olaf Scholz, the Social Democratic candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor German.

“They decided differently. I hope they will handle the problems that arise,” said Scholz.

British ministers insisted that Brexit had nothing to do with the current shortage of truckers, although around 25,000 truckers returned to Europe before Brexit. Britain has also failed to test 40,000 drivers during COVID-19 lockdowns.

The government on Sunday announced a plan to issue temporary visas to 5,000 foreign truck drivers.

Edwin Atema, head of research and enforcement for the Netherlands-based union FNV, told the BBC that drivers from the EU were unlikely to flock to Britain given the proposed conditions .

“The EU workers we are talking to are not going to the UK on a short-term visa to help the UK out of the shit they themselves created,” Atema said.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Alistair Smout; Editing by Catherine Evans

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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