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Fuel crisis in Britain Fuel crisis in Britain  (AFP or licensors)

Britain: Army prepares to aid fuel delivery

In Britain, soldiers will start driving tankers to replenish empty pumps as drivers queued again for fuel after days of shortages. The move to send in troops came despite the Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying earlier that the situation was improving.

By Susy Hodges

Britain has been gripped by a rush of panic buying of petrol for almost a week that has left pumps dry across major cities after oil companies warned they did not have enough tanker drivers to move petrol and diesel from refineries to filling stations.

The Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said on Wednesday 150 soldiers have been mobilized and would be driving fuel tankers within a few days. 

Prime Minister Johnson has sought to quell concerns, saying supplies were returning to normal, while also urging people not to panic buy. 

Britain is estimated to be short of about 100 thousand truck drivers, causing problems for a range of industries, including food suppliers and supermarkets in recent months. 

The last few days have seen huge lines of vehicles outside filling stations across many areas of the country and there have even been some reports of fights breaking out between angry drivers.

The gridlock has sparked calls for doctors, nurses and other essential workers to be given priority access to fuel. Some care organizations have warned that vulnerable users could be left without their usual help if the crisis does not ease.

Britain left the EU single market at the start of this year, preventing hauliers from recruiting drivers in the bloc.  To tackle the shortage, the government said it will issue temporary visas to 5,000 foreign drivers. But one critic dismissed the move, likening it to throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire.

29 September 2021, 14:30