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InvestmentsAs queues form at gas stations, Britain vows to solve trucker shortage...

As queues form at gas stations, Britain vows to solve trucker shortage By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A driver sporting a face masks walks previous lorries at Ashford International Truck Stop, as EU nations impose a journey ban from the UK following the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak, in Ashford, Britain December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Da

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By Guy Faulconbridge, Victor Jack and Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain on Friday vowed to do no matter it takes to resolve a trucker shortage that has closed petrol stations and strained grocery store provide chains to breaking level however the haulage trade cautioned that there have been no fast fixes.

Just because the world’s fifth-largest financial system emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, a spike in European costs and a post-Brexit shortage of truck drivers have left Britain grappling with hovering vitality costs and a possible meals provide crunch.

BP (NYSE:) briefly closed a few of its 1,200 UK petrol stations due to a scarcity of each unleaded and diesel grades, which it blamed on driver shortages. ExxonMobil (NYSE:)’s Esso stated a small variety of its 200 Tesco (OTC:) Alliance retail websites had additionally been impacted.

Queues shaped at some petrol stations in London and the southern English county of Kent on Friday as motorists rushed to replenish, Reuters reporters stated.

For months supermarkets and farmers have warned {that a} shortage of truck drivers was straining provide chains to breaking level – making it more durable to get items on to cabinets.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated there was a worldwide shortage of truckers after COVID halted lorry driver testing so Britain was doubling the variety of checks. Asked if the federal government would ease visa guidelines, he stated the federal government would look at all choices.

“We’ll do whatever it takes,” Shapps informed Sky News. “We’ll move heaven and earth to do whatever we can to make sure that shortages are alleviated with HGV drivers.

“We ought to see it clean out pretty shortly,” he said.

Hauliers and logistics companies cautioned that there were no quick fixes and that any change to testing or visas would likely be too late to alleviate the pre-Christmas shortages as retailers stockpile months ahead.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has insisted that there will be no return to the 1970s when Britain was cast by allies as the “sick man of Europe” with three-day weeks, energy shortages and rampant inflation.

But as ministers urged the public not to panic buy, some of Britain’s biggest supermarkets have warned that a shortage of truck drivers could lead to just that ahead of Christmas.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that Johnson, whom he met in New York, had asked him for an “emergency” agreement to supply a food product that is lacking in Britain, though the British embassy disputed Bolsonaro’s account.

TRUCKER VISAS?

Such is the strain on the supply chain, McDonald’s (NYSE:) had to take milkshakes and bottled drinks off the menu at its British restaurants in August and chicken chain Nando’s ran out of chicken.

Suppliers have warned that there could be more shortages of petrol because of a lack of drivers to transport fuel from refineries to retail outlets.

The trucking industry body, the Road Haulage Association (RHA), has called on the government to allow short-term visas for international drivers to enter Britain and fill the gap, while British drivers are being trained for the future.

“It’s an unlimited problem,” Rod McKenzie, head of policy at the RHA, told Reuters. In the short-term, he said, international drivers could help, even if it may be too late to help Christmas, and in the longer term the industry needed better pay and conditions to attract workers.

“It’s a troublesome job. We the British don’t assist truckers in the way in which that Europeans and Americans do by giving them first rate amenities,” he stated.

British ministers are due to meet in a while Friday in an try to hash out a repair.

The British haulage trade says it wants round 100,000 extra drivers after 25,000 returned to Europe earlier than Brexit and the pandemic halted the qualification course of for brand spanking new employees.

Shapps, who stated the motive force shortage was not due to Brexit, stated COVID-19 exacerbated the issue on condition that Britain was unable to take a look at 40,000 drivers throughout lockdowns.

“It’s a bit of a global problem so it’s not immediately obvious that opening up visas would actually resolve the problem,” he informed Times Radio.

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