Britain’s business minister said Wednesday the army would begin driving fuel tankers in response to shortages at gas stations around the nation brought on by a dearth of truck drivers.
For about a week now, a shortage of around 100,000 truck drivers in Britain has made it difficult for oil companies to get gasoline from refineries to fueling stations. The British Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) reported Wednesday that more than a third of the nation’s 8,500 gas stations remain without fuel.
The situation has left long lines of motorists trying to buy fuel at stations that did have gasoline.
Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng told reporters they could expect to see soldiers driving tanker trucks to help get gasoline to the stations in a few days. He added that he felt the situation was stabilizing, noting that the inflow of gasoline matched sales on Tuesday.
The situation had been exacerbated by panic buying among some motorists, but Kwarteng said people were “behaving quite responsibly” over the last day or so, and he encouraged them to continue buying fuel as they normally would.
The British business minister said Britain was not alone in facing a truck driver shortage. He said Poland is facing a shortage of about 123,000 drivers, and the United States is facing a similar situation.
In a release on their website, the PRA reported “early signs that the crisis at pumps is ending,” with more of the association's members reporting they are now receiving deliveries of fuel.
They expect the percentage of stations without fuel is likely to improve further over the next 24 hours.
The driver shortage, however, is raising fears in Britain’s retail sector that if it continues much longer, it could create problems for the holiday season.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters.