UK aims to reduce truck driver shortage with visas until 2022
LONDON – The UK government, under increasing pressure to alleviate the truck driver shortage and supply chain issues that have depleted many supermarket shelves and dry petrol pumps, said on Saturday it was extending temporary visas offered to thousands of foreign truck drivers in the next year.
He also said military tanker drivers would be deployed across the country on Monday to help deliver gas to gas stations.
The government’s announcement a week ago that foreign truck drivers and poultry workers would be allowed to work in Britain for three months – an effort to move the country forward until Christmas – drew criticism from chiefs of British business and the public. Ruby McGregor-Smith, president of the British Chambers of Commerce, likened the decision to “throwing a dice of water on a bonfire”.
Now, 300 foreign tanker drivers will be allowed to arrive immediately and will be allowed to work in the country until the end of March, the government said on Saturday. In addition, he added, 4,700 food transport truck drivers would be allowed to arrive from the end of October and stay until the end of February.
Long lines formed at gas stations in London and other parts of Britain last week, as motorists resorted to panic shopping after some stations ran out of fuel. But unlike the widespread shortages that resulted from an OPEC oil embargo in the 1970s, this time the problem has been a shortage of skilled drivers rather than a lack of fuel itself.
The country lacks up to 100,000 truck drivers, according to the Road Haulage Association. Around 20% of them are drivers who left Britain after voting in 2016 to leave the European Union.
Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labor Party, urged the government on Friday to take “emergency measures” to deal with the crisis. “We are going to see this driver shortage problem come back to different sectors,” he said in a statement.
British Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Saturday urged motorists to refrain from panicking while buying gasoline.
“It is important to stress that there is no national fuel shortage in the UK and people should continue to buy fuel normally,” he said in the government statement. “The sooner we get back to our normal shopping habits, the sooner we can get back to normal.”
He added that gas deliveries to the forecourt were now “above normal levels” and demand for gas was “stabilizing”.
Ben Wallace, Secretary of Defense, added that “As the situation stabilizes, our armed forces are there to fill critical vacancies and help keep the country on the move by helping industry deliver fuel to foreclosures. “.
About 200 military tanker personnel, including 100 drivers, will be deployed to relieve pressure on gas stations, the government said.