LONDON: Almost 200 military tanker personnel will be deployed from Monday to provide temporary support to address the long queues at petrol stations across the UK due to supply shortages, the government announced on Saturday.
The shortage has been caused by a severe insufficiency of truck drivers, especially heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers required to supply fuel.
The government said that military personnel are currently undertaking their training at haulier sites across the country and will be on the road delivering fuel supplies from Monday.
“Across the weekend over 200 military personnel will have been mobilised as part of Operation Escalin,” said UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
“While the situation is stabilising, our Armed Forces are there to fill in any critical vacancies and help keep the country on the move by supporting the industry to deliver fuel to forecourts,” he said.
The government claimed that demand for fuel has stabilised through the week and more fuel is now being delivered than is being sold, however some parts of the country still face challenges.
“Thanks to the immense efforts of industry over the past week, we are seeing continued signs that the situation at the pumps is slowly improving,” said UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
“UK forecourt stock levels are trending up, deliveries of fuel to forecourts are above normal levels, and fuel demand is stabilising. It’s important to stress there is no national shortage of fuel in the UK, and people should continue to buy fuel as normal. The sooner we return to our normal buying habits, the sooner we can return to normal,” he said.
The military intervention comes alongside a range of measures to ease temporary supply chain pressures in food haulage industries, which the UK government says has been brought on by the pandemic and the global economy rebounding around the world.
Further measures include a bespoke scheme allowing up to 300 fuel tanker drivers to the UK on a temporary basis.
The UK Home Office is allowing a number of fuel haulage drivers to work in the UK immediately as an emergency measure to address the crisis. It follows an earlier announcement of further time-limited visa measures to get 4,700 food haulage drivers from late October and leave by February 2022.
The government has stressed that visas are only a short-term fix and that it wants to see employers make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on overseas labour to build a “high-wage, high-skill” economy.