Keep calm and don’t panic at the petrol pump - Laura Collins, YEP Editor
There was a strange sense of déjà vu at the weekend as panic buying once again swept across the country.
In scenes that echoed the chaos witnessed in supermarkets last year when the shelves were stripped bare, forecourts up and down the country were taped off to drivers simply because the petrol pumps had run dry.
Tailbacks were created for a third day across the city yesterday and bus services were disrupted the previous day as hordes of motorists queued at petrol stations to fill up their vehicles.
Sadly, the queues came despite assurances from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that there is “plenty” of fuel available as he called on the public to be “sensible” and only fill up their cars when needed.
The Petrol Retailers Association warned demand at one service station spiked by 500 per cent on Saturday compared to last week as oil companies prioritise motorway forecourts amid a shortage of specialist tanker drivers.
Needless to say, there will no be those who didn’t have to fill up their cars simply adding to the queues. It is this senseless behaviour that then causes problems for those who desperately need to fill up their vehicles.
On social media, there were warnings from ambulance drivers in other parts of the country struggling to fill up their emergency vehicles after shifts that see them clocking up hundreds of miles to save lives.
There are also fears that key workers will struggle to get to their places of work simply because they weren’t able to fill up their cars.
In scenes that shame us all, there were images circulating of people armed with petrol cans to gain an extra drop for storage.
Each of us has a moral duty to behave responsibly and not fill up our vehicles unless there is a genuine need.
We should have learned our lessons from last year that panic buying never helps anybody nor does it solve anything.
In fact, it has quite the opposite impact – it causes a deep sense of friction in society because of the actions of a selfish few.
The Government has now created 5,000 HGV foreign driver visas in an effort to alleviate the crisis and nearly one million letters will also be landing on the doormats of people with HGV licences in the coming days in a bid to entice them to return to the job now that wages have risen.
The emergency measures are also designed to bolster efforts to keep our supermarket shelves stocked this winter.
But frankly, the issues now arising in the supply chain should have been foreseen by the Government long before it reached this stage.
If the business, food, energy and transport ministers had all been working together, they could have seen the perfect storm brewing – one that was foretold by plenty in the industry.
Once the petrol pumps are flowing again, there will doubtless be a detailed post-mortem into what happened and how it can be prevented.
Until then, there will be countless fingers pointing to find someone to blame.
In the meantime, the one thing within all of our power is making the choice not to rush out and fill our car when we don’t really need to do so.
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