Britain is likely to unveil plans to give temporary visas to truck drivers in order to ease a severe labour shortage, which has resulted in gasoline restrictions at certain filling stations and store warnings of considerable disruption in the run-up to Christmas.
As lines formed outside fueling stations early Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said that interim measures were being considered to alleviate the lack of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.
Newspapers claimed that the government will let up to 5,000 foreign drivers into the country on short-term visas, a move that logistics businesses and retailers had been requesting for months but that the government has previously denied.
According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), Britain requires 100,000 additional drivers to satisfy demand.
Brexit and Covid-19, as well as the loss of about a year of training and testing of drivers and testing, have contributed to the scarcity of drivers.
“We’re looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly time limited,” a spokeswoman for Johnson’s Downing Street office said in a statement.
No further details were provided by Downing Street.
Ministers have warned about panic purchasing, while oil firms have stated that there is no lack of supply, only issues getting the fuel to petrol stations.
However, huge queues of vehicles have began to form at gas stations to fill up after BP said that it will be forced to close some of its outlets owing to driver shortages.
Several Shell stations have also experienced pump failures, while ExxonMobil’s Esso has said that a limited number of its 200 Tesco Alliance retail locations had been affected in some form.
Due to “unprecedented consumer demand,” EG Group, which operates hundreds of forecourts across the United Kingdom, said on Friday that it will impose a purchase restriction of 30 pounds ($41) per client for gasoline.
“We have ample fuel stocks in this country and the public should be reassured there are no shortages,” the Downing Street spokeswoman said.
“But like countries around the world we are suffering from a temporary COVID-related shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around the country.”
The gasoline crisis hits as Britain, the fifth largest economy of the world, is also dealing with a surge in prices of natural gas that it imports from Europe, which is creating skyrocketing of energy prices and a possible food supply shortage.
Other nations, such as the United States and Germany, are also experiencing a lack of lorry drivers.
Britain believes that hiring more British drivers is the long-term solution, with the RHA stating that improved compensation and working conditions are required to entice individuals into the sector.
However, the retail industry has warned that unless the government moves to solve the shortfall over the next 10 days, substantial disruption in the run-up to Christmas is unavoidable.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)