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Labour shortage in the UK triggers petrol crisis

The current fuel crisis experienced in the United Kingdom has negatively impacted the region’s economic activities as vehicular mobility and other private business concerns have been hit by the event.

Panicked motorists can be seen all over the UK as queues continue to gain length at the pump stations. As a result, small businesses and essential services providers continue to face difficulties due to the shortage of this essential commodity.

While the UK government claims to be handling the situation properly, several calls by concerned local agencies are being made for a quicker and more effective response to the situation to forestall an aggravated eventuality owing to the current situation.

On Saturday, September 25, UK’s Evening Standard reported that BP, UK’s oil giant, announced its decision to temporarily close some of its petrol stations because it lacked sufficient lorry drivers for its supply operations.

According to the oil firm, not enough drivers are available to shuttle fuel to the various dispensing locations. For this reason, the firm has decided to close down some of its petrol stations for a while.

According to a British information source, over 100,000 HGV drivers lack across a broad range of UK’s industries, including fast foods supply chains and supermarkets.

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This labour shortage is blamed on many reasons, including the exit of many drivers to their home countries after Brexit. Some others moved elsewhere in search of better working conditions, and an escape from additional border bureaucracies, which impacts their income if they remained in the UK post-Brexit.

Furthermore, enlistment into the truck driving job requires additional safety qualifications in addition to their HGV licence before they can be allowed to transport chemicals such as petrol with huge trucks.

Of course, the pandemic also shares in the blame for labour supply contraction across the UK, as many drivers fled to their home countries when the region experienced a remarkable economic downturn. Older drivers resigned as well, and a massive backlog of HGV driver tests was created due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All over the UK, long queues keep building up as people fear that prices will spike. While the Northern Ireland region seems unaffected by this development, urban areas throughout Great Britain seem to be hit the hardest.

The UK government has been alleviating the situation by luring more temporary workers into the distribution network. The government has announced the provision of temporary visas to 5,000 foreign fuel tankers and food lorry drivers, and up to 5,500 poultry workers.

With this, the government hopes to boost supply and contract the scarcity timeline.

Also, the UK authorities are looking to take measures to ensure that companies share more timely information about fuel supply and prioritise areas in need. This is expected to give timely public information about petrol supply situations in the country so that panic responses to announcements that further ignite scarcity and price hikes in fuel prices and other related concerns will not occur.

UK authorities are also making efforts to speed up the process of approving HGV driver licences so that newly employed drivers can commence supply operations as fast as possible.

Currently, there are arguments that border on the need for government priority focus towards providers of critical services across the country concerning petrol access. This strand of believers argues that providers of such services as medical, education and security should be given access priority while the situation elapses. This, they believe, should help avert the disruption of these essential services during this trying time.

Commenting on the current situation, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng assures the public that the crisis is stabilising.

According to BBC News, the Secretary said soldiers would be involved with supplying fuel within the next couple of days to help relieve supply issues. He further announced that the government would be drawing on its tanker reserve fleet to boost fuel availability to the panicking public.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents about 5,500 of the UK’s 8,000 filling stations, has assured the public that the mounting demand pressures will soon ease at the pumps.

The government has also assured its citizens that fuel supply at the more significant level is not affected despite the current situation. However, they blame the current crisis on customer over-demand due to fears of a shortage and inflated media coverage on the issue.

Reports from BBC news hold that petrol prices across the UK are at an eight-year high. The average price of petrol at UK forecourts was £135.10 a litre on Monday, up from £134.86 a week earlier. Also, diesel price per litre is observed to go up from £137.35 per litre to £137.95 over the same period, BBC media reports.

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