The U.K. government will send out reserve fuel tankers to deliver much-needed fuel to dry gas stations. The announcement comes as a much-needed respite from service stations experiencing fuel shortages and long lines of vehicles fueling up. Aside from the reserve tankers driven by citizens, military personnel will also take on fuel delivery duties, Downing Street adds.
British Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed the announcement in a Sept. 29 tweet. His post says: “I can confirm the government’s reserve tanker fleet will be on the road … to boost deliveries to [gas stations] across Britain. The trucks are driven by civilians and will provide additional logistical capacity to the fuel industry.”
A succeeding tweet by Kwarteng provides an optimistic note to the situation. “We are now seeing signs that the situation at the pumps has begun to improve with more stations getting more fuel. The sooner we can all return to our normal buying habits, the sooner the situation will return to normal,” he writes.
The British government also announced the deployment of military tankers in a Sept. 27 press release. “British Army tanker drivers will be brought to a state of readiness in order to be deployed if required to deliver fuel to where it is needed most,” it said. The press release added that military drivers will undergo “specialized training” before deployment.
Kwarteng says in the statement: “While the fuel industry expects demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, it’s right that we take this sensible, precautionary step. If required, the deployment of military personnel will provide the supply chain with additional capacity as a temporary measure to help ease pressures.”
The Sept. 27 statement said that Kwarteng issued the request for military aid, which Defense Secretary Ben Wallace approved. “The men and women of our armed forces stand ready to alleviate the transport pressures where they are felt most. That is why I have authorized their increased preparedness, so they are ready to respond when needed,” Wallace says.
The fuel shortage has given rise to a number of crimes and brawls
A dearth of truck drivers delivering fuel to service stations has contributed to the shortage. As a result, many Britons have lined up at gas stations seeking to fill their vehicles’ fuel tanks to the brim. This panic buying has also played a role in worsening the U.K.’s fuel supply shortage.
Given the atmosphere, fuel-desperate Britons have resorted to violence and crime. The Sun reports that four men – two fathers and their sons – trade blows at a gas station in the city of Chichester. Footage posted on social media shows the four men initially yelling at each other until one older man grabs his adversary and shoves him against a car.
Their sons then enter the fray, with punches and kicks being thrown. The brawl continues for at least a minute, before coming to a conclusion. Law enforcement says it is now working to identify the two parties, but add that no arrests have been made.
The Portsmouth News also reports a similar instance at a service station in the city of Portsmouth. One driver there told the news outlet that two groups of men were “screaming and shouting” at each other. He adds that one group of men hop into a white van and drive off, but the other group gives chase in a silver van. The men in the silver van then hurl stones at the white van while in pursuit, hitting the white van about two to three times.
While some Britons have brawled with others in the search for fuel, thieves in the city of Birmingham have resorted to drilling holes in the fuel tanks of parked vehicles to get it. Two vehicles in the city fall prey to this crime – including the car of Shadrack Olaloko.
Olaloko takes to social media to describe how his car was drained of its fuel. “What these guys did was they came and drained out all my fuel in the tank. They made a hole and drained out all the diesel – a full tank. They drained everything out and then they left,” he says. He also points out that the van parked next to his car has also fallen victim to the fuel thieves, as seen by the pools of fuel on the ground.
**By Ramon Tomey