Kwasi Kwarteng MP
As the BBC has reported, “The government's reserve tanker fleet was being deployed on Wednesday afternoon to boost fuel deliveries, the business secretary said. Civilians were driving the trucks from their depots in Cambridgeshire and West Yorkshire, Kwasi Kwarteng said. He has also said soldiers would be delivering fuel in the coming days”.
Do go on. “Mr Kwarteng admitted the situation had been ‘difficult’ but denied there was a crisis in UK fuel supplies”. By “difficult”, perhaps he means the fights that have broken out among those queuing for fuel, especially in and around London. But not to worry, “Ministers have decided to deploy troops to drive tankers in ‘the next couple of days’, he said, in addition to the civilians driving them from Wednesday”.
Tesco/Esso forecourt opposite Crewe fire station last weekend. It was still out of fuel yesterday
The Petrol Retailers Association spokesman did not sound totally confident that the Government’s move would clear the problem overnight: "It would take more than ‘a day or a few days’ to fully replenish stocks at all UK forecourts, he said, but there was still ‘plenty to go round’”. And then there is the problem of suitably qualified drivers.
But isn’t an HGV qualification all you need? Apparently not. As a Zelo Street source told me, “Petrol tanker drivers have an ADR qualification as well as a HGV licence. They need this for them to drive petrol tanker lorries … There is a shortage of HGV drivers … however HGV drivers cannot drive a petrol tanker lorry without having an ADR qualification”. You can get more information on the ADR licence HERE.
So the situation is not as straightforward as our free and fearless press would have you believe. Worse, none of our media class seem to have stopped and thought where the civilian drivers would come from. James Doleman did: “And what do these drivers do when they are not called up by the reserve tanker fleet? Is it driving tankers by any chance?”.
The Tweeter known as My Sweet Landlord concurred, adding “There are no reserve tanker drivers. Just tankers. Allegedly” and quoting from the FT: “The Government’s tanker fleet is a pool available to private companies to lease, stored in depots in West Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire. Government insiders said the fleet had not been released before now due to ‘driver availability issues’ among hauliers, since industry is typically expected to provide drivers for the vehicles from their existing workforce”.
Meanwhile, media outlets outside the UK have no compunction in telling their readers exactly what is going on out there, like CNN reporting that “Rising energy bills, higher prices and a critical shortage of workers leading to food and fuel supply constraints are threatening to stall Britain's recovery from the pandemic”. The reason being?
“Although shortages, supply chain delays and rising food and energy costs are affecting several major economies … Britain is suffering more than most because of Brexit”. And the suffering won’t be ended by the shuffling of the tanker driver pack. No change there.
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