UK: Soldiers to start driving fuel tankers in coming days

  • In US
  • 2021-09-29 15:41:45Z
  • By Associated Press

LONDON (AP) - The British government's reserve tanker fleet was being deployed Wednesday to help deliver gasoline to empty pumps across the U.K., and military drivers will begin operating fuel tankers in the coming days to ease the country's fuel-supply crisis, a top official said.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the first of dozens of troops trained to operate gasoline tanker trucks will start appearing on the roads within days.

"It takes, sometimes, a few days to get troops on the ground. We have decided to do that. I think in the next couple of days you will see some soldiers driving tankers," Kwarteng told reporters.

He added that the government's reserve tanker fleet, driven by civilian drivers, will begin providing "additional logistical capacity to the fuel industry" beginning Wednesday.

His comments came as the Petrol Retailers Association reported that Britain's fuel-supply crisis, triggered by a shortage of truck drivers, was easing.

Many gas stations around Britain have shut down in the past five days after running out of fuel, a situation exacerbated by panic buying among some motorists. Long lines of vehicles formed at pumps that were still open, blocking roads and causing traffic chaos. Some drivers have had to endure hourslong waits to fill up.

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents the majority of U.K. gas stations, said just 27% of members reported being out of fuel Wednesday.

"With regular restocks taking place, we are expecting to see the easing to continue over the next 24 hours," he said.

But the taxi drivers' union said about a quarter of its members were not able to work Tuesday and there appeared to be little immediate signs of the situation improving.

"It has not got any better. The queues at the station - if you can find a station with any to queue up - are not getting any better," said Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association.

The supply problems have stemmed from a shortage of as many as 100,000 truck drivers, due to a combination of factors including pandemic-related disruption to driver training, an aging workforce and an exodus of foreign workers following Britain's departure from the European Union last year.


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