Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Business

UK urges public calm over shut fuel stations

UK urges public calm over shut fuel stations
The Times reported that at least 50 of BP's 1,200 service stations were out of at least one type of fuel, while the UK's transport secretary said five had closed - Copyright AFP William WEST
The Times reported that at least 50 of BP's 1,200 service stations were out of at least one type of fuel, while the UK's transport secretary said five had closed - Copyright AFP William WEST

The UK government on Friday urged the public against panic-buying as some petrol stations closed pumps due to a lack of lorry drivers to deliver fuel.

Tabloid newspaper The Sun headlined its front page “We’re running on empty”, with the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit triggering an ongoing crisis in the haulage industry.

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted there was no fuel shortage and the government was taking steps to recruit more drivers. 

“The advice would be to carry on as normal,” Shapps told Sky News after a number of UK petrol stations run by BP and ExxonMobil-owned Esso were forced to close to customers.

The Times reported that at least 50 of BP’s 1,200 service stations were out of at least one type of fuel, while Shapps said five had closed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office is also urging people not to rush to petrol stations despite the closures.

“There is no shortage of fuel in the UK and people should continue to buy fuel as normal,” a Downing Street spokesman said Thursday.  

Experts and business leaders have said Brexit and the pandemic have reduced the number of truck drivers working in Britain, affecting supply chains for numerous businesses.

Shapps said the problem is one of distribution, not Brexit.

The minister told BBC radio that government measures to increase recruitment, such as making it easier to take tests to become a lorry driver, would help.

He vowed to “move heaven and earth and do anything that’s required to make sure that lorries carry on moving goods and services and petrol around the country”.

But while saying the government was “ruling nothing out”, Shapps rebuffed industry calls to add lorry drivers to a special list of industries suffering labour shortages, to make it easier for EU citizens to obtain work visas.

Shapps argued that many people with the right to work in the UK had quit driving “often because there has been cheaper European labour”, undercutting their pay.

“We want to get those people back in,” he said, adding that “the market is responding by paying drivers more, and that is bringing more people back in”.

But Shapps added that Britain was keen to “entice” EU citizens with residency status in the UK who are qualified as lorry drivers but no longer work in the sector.

He cast doubt on suggestions the government could deploy the army to deliver fuel, saying: “Probably that’s not the solution in terms of just sheer numbers.”

Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

You may also like:

Tech & Science

Lakes in the Northern Hemisphere have been warming six times faster since 1992 than they were in the past 100 years.

World

Jennifer Cashman and her family lost virtually everything when their house in Paradise, California was razed by a wildfire.

World

Hong Kong has one of the strictest mandatory Covid quarantine regimes in the world - Copyright AFP/File ISAAC LAWRENCEHong Kong will tighten coronavirus travel...

World

The number of Algerians arriving on Spain's southeastern coast or the Balearic Isles has soared - Copyright AFP/File ISAAC LAWRENCEThomas Perroteau with Amal Belalloufi...