Long queues meander through the streets of the UK as drivers struggle to fill their cars, causing widespread traffic misery and concerns over whether emergency services can do their job.
The British army has been put on hold to help. And the government is blaming the public, urging people not to panic. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, people hear the word panic and just do this panic buying fuel on a scale not seen since September 2000, when a similar crisis virtually brought the country to a standstill.
Here is an overview of the evolution of the crisis:
WHAT’S GOING ON?
In recent months, many businesses have reported shortages, including fast food chains KFC, McDonalds and Nandos. Supermarket shelves have also dried up.
At first, the shortages drew a shrug. A drawback for some, but hardly enough to shake an economy or a government. But Thursday’s news from oil giants BP and ExxonMobil that they had to close some gas stations due to a shortage of truck drivers was a game-changer.
People, especially those with memories of the 2000 crisis, knew where it could end and headed for the pump. Rationally they would say. Others, seeing what was going on, whether it was live, on TV or on social media, followed suit.
IS THERE A FUEL SHORTAGE?
The British government insists there is none.
This is true, but the process of keeping gas stations running smoothly across the country involves the seamless interplay of a number of activities. So when one or more aspects of the process are out of whack, the whole system can come to a halt.
Critics say Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also to blame for failing to address the truck driver shortage issue, he has been warned for months that there is a shortage of around 100,000 drivers across the country. trucking industry.
Replenishing inventory becomes even more difficult if the driver shortage persists and people persist in their new routines. It is a self-sustaining crisis which can, as the year 2000 showed, bring the economy to a halt in a matter of days.
IS BREXIT THE INJURY OF THE TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE?
The pro-Brexit Conservative government is keen to play down rumors that the truck driver shortage is the result of Britain leaving the European Union.
However, when the country left the EU’s economic orbit earlier this year, one of the main principles of the bloc stopped enforcing the freedom of people to move within the EU to find work. job. With Brexit, tens of thousands of drivers have left the UK to return home to the EU, putting further pressure on an industry already facing long-term staffing issues.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER FACTORS TO BLAIRE?
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated staff problems, prompting thousands of European drivers to leave the UK. The series of lockdown restrictions have also made it difficult to train and test new local drivers to replace those who have left.
In addition, the pandemic has sped up the number of UK drivers, many of whom are nearing retirement age, making it a day. Relatively low wages, changes in the way truck drivers’ incomes are taxed, and a lack of toilet and shower facilities, for example, have also decreased the attractiveness of work for young workers. In short, it was a perfect storm.
WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT TRYING TO DO IN THE SHORT TERM?
Everyone agrees that there is no quick fix. The government’s main goal appears to be to get motorists back to normal activities and to go to the pump only when needed.
There are few signs of this happening, prompting warnings of how the crisis is jeopardizing patient care as doctors and nurses struggle to get to work.
Johnson appeared on Tuesday to reduce public blame, acknowledging how frustrating and infuriating it must be to worry about fuel shortages. He said the situation was starting to improve with the return of supplies and urged people to go about their business as normal.
WHAT ABOUT THE MEDIUM TO LONG TERM?
The government is trying to get former UK drivers back into the industry, as well as speed up training for new drivers. And he put the army personnel on standby to drive the tankers.
It also provides visas for 5,000 foreign drivers to come to the UK for three months. It remains to be seen whether many will choose to come in such a short time and then race home for Christmas.
WILL THIS WORK?
The hope is that the balance between supply and demand will return to normal soon, in part because so many people will have already filled their cars. Over the next few months, the structural problems facing the trucking industry will persist and there are concerns that similar supply disruptions will affect other sectors.
It is not just the trucking industry that is facing labor shortages in the wake of Brexit and the pandemic. The farming community is concerned, for example, that much of this year’s harvest will be left to rot because there are not enough farm workers around.
Will there be enough turkeys for Christmas?