Reuters File Photo: Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shaps walks outside Downing Street in London on September 15, 2021. Reuters / Toby Melville / File photo
Written by William James
BRITON, England (Reuters) – Transport Minister Grant Shaps on Sunday called on the British to behave normally when buying petrol, saying there was no shortage of fuel and the government was taking steps to address the shortage of drivers at petrol stations.
Long lines of vehicles have formed at petrol stations in recent days as motorists waited for hours to refuel, while oil companies reported that a lack of drivers was causing transportation problems from the refinery to the forecourt.
Some operators had to provide rations and others had to shut down gas stations.
“There is plenty of energy, there is no shortage of energy in the country,” he told Sky News.
“So the most important thing is that people usually run like them and when they fill their cars normally, you won’t have queues and you won’t have a shortage at the pump.”
Shaps said the lack of drivers has hampered the qualification process for drivers due to Covid-119, preventing new workers from entering the market.
Others have blamed Brexit and poor working conditions for forcing foreign drivers.
On Sunday, the government announced plans to issue temporary visas for 5,000 foreign truck drivers.
But business leaders have warned that the government’s plan will not solve short-term and acute labor crises that would cause major disruptions beyond the supply of fuel for retailers on the eve of Christmas.
Shaps called the panic over fuel a “productive situation” and blamed it on a holiers’ association.
“They are desperate to cut the salaries of more European drivers British,” he said.
An opinion poll published in the Observer on Sunday found that 67% of voters believe the government has dealt poorly with the crisis. Most 68% say Brexit is partly responsible.
Opposition Labor leader Carey Starmer said at her party’s annual conference in the south of England that ministers had failed to plan a labor crisis after the 2016 Brexit vote and called for a major temporary visa scheme.
“It’s a complete lack of planning: we’re out of the EU … the only consequence is that there’s going to be a shortage of HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) drivers. It was predictable, it was predicted,” he told the BBC.
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