In recent days if there wasn’t a line outside a UK petrol station, chances are it was empty of fuel.
Now Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the fuel crisis is starting to ease, and we’re hearing similar sounds of optimism from within the industry.
The Petrol Retailers Association said a survey of their members revealed 37% of filling stations were out of fuel – that may not sound good, but it’s an improvement from the weekend.
The fuel crisis has impacted everyday lives, but also jobs: taxi drivers, delivery drivers and of course essential workers, including first responders.
The British Medical Association suggested the government designate some filling stations as a priority for such staff.
The UK government put the British Army on a hard standby, with personnel trained and ready to drive fuel from refineries and platforms to forecourts that need it.
They’ve also made policy announcements to tackle the issue at the heart of this crisis: a lack of truck drivers.
In addition to encouraging retired drivers with an HGV qualification to return to work, they’re offering temporary visas for 5,000 foreign drivers.
It’s a fraction of the 100,000 drivers that the UK needs, according to the Road Haulage Association.
The president of the British Chambers of Commerce compared the temporary visa scheme to throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire.
Supply chains remain fractured for multiple sectors due to a shortage of UK truck drivers. It’s an issue that’s been years in the making, but is reaching a breaking point now, with a confluence of causes: Brexit, the pandemic, online shopping demand, low wages, not enough driving instructors to name a few.
Tempers are frayed, and it’s not just within the echelons of power, with some scenes of violence at petrol stations between drivers lining up for fuel.
This petrol crisis may be easing, but the UK’s winter of discontent could be just beginning as a shortage in drivers threatens more supply chain crises before Christmas.