Electrician warns panic-buyers could cost self-employed their income

·3 min read

Panic-buyers could hit the pockets of self-employed people, one worker has warned, as many struggled to commute without any fuel.

Queues stretched out from petrol stations at the weekend as panic-buying added to fuel supply issues caused by a lack of HGV drivers.

Self-employed electrician Roland McKibbin, 31, from Beckenham, south-east London, visited four petrol stations and then faced a 90-minute wait before he was able to half-fill his tank on Monday.

A Shell petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire, which has no fuel. Picture date: Sunday September 26, 2021
A Shell petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire, which has no fuel (Steve Parsons/PA)

“I rely on fuel to travel to jobs – no fuel means I can’t drive, which means I can’t get to jobs with my tools,” he told the PA news agency.

Before he was able to put fuel in his vehicle, Mr McKibbin said: “The panic-buying idiots have lost me income, and directly taken food off the table for my wife and five-year old son, because I can’t wire people’s houses from home, unfortunately.”

Facing the loss of around £200 of work, the electrician finally succeeded in his hunt for fuel and managed to reschedule his morning’s work, but warned he is not out of the woods yet.

“I’ve managed to organise my day to accomplish everything but at great personal inconvenience,” he said.

“Hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday this won’t be an issue, but 100 miles won’t last me terribly long.”

The Environment Secretary George Eustice said there were “no plans at the moment” to use the Army to drive petrol tankers amid continuing shortages at filling stations, after Boris Johnson was thought to be considering sending in troops.

Karenza Passmore, 55, from Langley Park in County Durham, is the director of the North East Religious Resources centre, an educational charity.

She said she was unable to drive to work on Monday, while the charity may be unable to move resources – such as books and artefacts – to schools and faith groups.

“Yesterday I used 30 (miles) trying to find some diesel but there was no fuel,” she told PA.

“The nearest garage to me is four miles so it’s a risk now, (chancing) my arm to see if the fuel stations have any in.

“Today I was due to see a colleague in the office – (I’m) going to have to cancel and do it online, hoping things settle and I can fill up soon!

“I don’t want to add to the hype – I am sure that things will settle as they did with loo rolls and food on shelves – but the lack of planning and infrastructure for a clearly foreseeable problem is so disappointing.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced on Sunday he was temporarily suspending competition laws to allow the industry to share information so it can target areas where fuel supply is running low.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng met with oil companies and retailers on Sunday to address another day of continued queuing for the pumps, with thousands of petrol stations running dry (Victoria Jones/PA)

The move came after the Prime Minister Mr Johnson said the Government was creating 5,000 three-month visas for foreign lorry drivers in an attempt to ease the pressure on hauliers which has been blamed over the problems.

A statement by Shell, ExxonMobile and other industry bodies again insisted there was no “national shortage of fuel” and that the pressures on supply were the result of “temporary spikes in customer demand”.

Alireza Ghazal, 19, a student from Hayes in west London, said: “I have been on the search for fuel for three days now and it’s all been in vain.

“I was really excited to go back into university and start my social life up again and attend lectures after a year of staying at home.

“I have probably lost more fuel looking for fuel. This is a disgrace that a first world country is running into shortages like this.

“I have had to ration my petrol to last as long as it can, but to be honest it’s most likely going to end before the end of today.”

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