“A really stressful situation”: The people who were stranded by the UK fuel crisis


By Amy Woodyatt, CNN Business

David Lawrie’s taxi drivers not only drop people off at nightclubs, train stations and shopping malls, but also carry disabled passengers and drive children to school. But with gas stations running empty across the UK, these will Drivers have to make difficult decisions about who can and cannot travel.

The UK military stands ready to supply gas stations after a shortage of truck drivers forced some to close last week, sparking a spate of panic buying by UK motorists. Drivers had to wait in line for hours at the pumps that were still open, and local media reported cases of violence between angry customers as tensions mounted.

But people who don’t drive could be the most disadvantaged.

“The taxi industry brings disabled passengers and special education needs kids to school and doctors and nurses who don’t drive or when their car breaks down – it’s a vital nonprofit that is 100% fuel dependent,” Lawrie said , Director of the National Private Hire and Taxi Association, told CNN Business.

Lawrie said he had heard reports from taxi drivers in the English city of Colchester who had to stop over the weekend to save fuel so they could transport students with special educational needs this week.

“We have retirees who are housebound because we can’t reach them,” he added.

Some drivers who make longer trips have had to get out of their cars after running dry, while key workers have reported that they cannot do their jobs without fuel.

The British Medical Association (BMA) on Monday called for emergency measures to give health workers priority access to fuel, warning that “there is a real risk that the NHS” [National Health Service] Employees will not be able to get their jobs done and provide vital services and care to people in dire need. “

“Although the government has announced that it is making plans to alleviate the truck shortage [truck] Drivers to transport fuel, the results will not be immediately visible. Therefore, priority access to fuel must be given to health care workers and key services workers so that they can continue their vital work and ensure patient care, ”said Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the BMA Council, in a statement.

“Disabled people are very worried”

The long lines and confusion add stress to people with disabilities.

Emma Vogelmann, who has spinal muscular atrophy and uses a ventilator through a tracheostomy, told CNN Business on Tuesday that her caregiver contacted her to tell her that if she didn’t get gasoline, she couldn’t see her.

“It’s a really stressful situation for her and for me to find out if she can come here for a shift,” added Vogelmann, senior policy advisor for Scope disability equality charity.

Eventually her carer was able to find fuel, but disabled people across the country face similar pressures.

“Disabled people are very worried that their carers will not be able to contact them. There were a few people who contacted me to say that their supervisors had only just come to them, ”said Vogelmann.

She urged people who fill up their tanks unnecessarily to think about the impact on others.

Workers could suffer

Motorists also worry about how to get to work.

“Right now I have enough gasoline, but if I can’t find one today or tomorrow, I can imagine not being able to take my car with me, and then my 25-minute drive may turn into about an hour and a half,” medical student Priyanka Oza said told CNN Business on Monday, adding that the larger London hospital she works at has poor public transport connections.

“I have to take a couple of buses or even drive to the center [London] and come back out. “

Lawrie said if the problem is not resolved soon, workers who rely on fuel for a living will suffer.

“If there is no fuel, there is no income because we don’t use fuel to get to work, we use fuel to go to work. So if we can’t drive, we can’t pick up passengers, but if we can’t pick up passengers, we have no income. So it’s a massive problem, ”added Lawrie.

The labor shortage is a growing problem in the UK with a record 1 million job openings. The shortage of truck drivers was exacerbated by the pandemic and Brexit, which resulted in tens of thousands of EU citizens leaving trucking and other jobs in the UK.

The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent fuel suppliers, said up to two-thirds of the 5,500 gas stations operated by its members have run out of fuel while the rest are “partially dry and about to run out,” the BBC reported on Monday .

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration has announced a series of emergency measures to deal with the fuel crisis, including granting temporary work visas to up to 5,500 foreign truck drivers and suspending competition laws to allow suppliers to supply fuel to competing operators.

The government said Monday that the British Army’s tanker drivers have been “put on standby” and could be used to deliver fuel to where it is most needed.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Charles Riley contributed to the coverage.

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