Britain announced on Friday that the army will start distributing fuel to stations from Monday, after the shortage of tanker drivers led to a rush to buy fuel and prompted the government to exempt foreign drivers from visas.
The British government said in a new statement: “About 200 personnel from several military tankers, including 100 drivers, will be deployed from Monday to provide temporary support as part of the government’s broader move to alleviate the pressure faced by gas stations and address the shortage of heavy truck drivers.”
Since the start of the week, cars have queued at petrol stations across Britain, running out of stocks and angering drivers.
British Business Minister Kwasi Quarting said: “Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the hydrocarbon sector over the past week, we are seeing continuous signs that the situation at the stations is improving, albeit slowly.” He added: “It is important to stress that there is no shortage of fuel in the UK at a national level and citizens should continue to buy fuel as normal. The sooner we get back to our normal buying pattern, the faster we can get back to normal.”
The government attributes the crisis to the shortage of tanker drivers and the unprecedented demand for fuel.
With the stabilization of fuel demand during the week, stations gradually returned to replace their stocks, but some areas are still facing severe shortages.
Military drivers were put on alert at the beginning of the week, and they underwent specialized training.
The British government has also made real drastic changes to its tough immigration policies, exempting foreign truck drivers from short-term visas to help fill the shortfall.
Fuel companies, including Shell, BP and Esso, said there was “abundance of fuel in UK refineries” and demand was expected to return to normal soon.
But after a week of waiting in queues, drivers in many parts of the country are still unable to get fuel, raising concern about the consequences for the economy.
Critics have blamed the government for the crisis for its failure to address the post-Brexit tanker driver shortage, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic that has prompted many foreign truck drivers to leave the country.