Europe

UK to issue 5,000 temporary visas to tackle truck driver shortage

5,500 poultry workers to be also added to visa scheme, Department for Transport says

Iclal Turan   | 26.09.2021
UK to issue 5,000 temporary visas to tackle truck driver shortage

ANKARA

The British government has announced that it will issue temporary visas to 5,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers and 5,500 poultry workers until Christmas 2021 to ease supply chain problems.

According to a statement by the Department for Transport on Saturday, 5,000 HGV drivers will be able to come to the UK for 3 months in the run-up to Christmas in order to provide "short-term relief for the haulage industry".

Some 5,500 poultry workers will also be added to the visa scheme to "avoid any potential further pressures on the food industry during this exceptional period."

"Up to 4,000 people will soon be able to take advantage of training courses to become HGV drivers," the statement added.

Ruby McGregor-Smith, president of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the measures were inadequate, adding: “This announcement is the equivalent of throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire."

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said refineries in the country had "plenty of petrol", adding that he had checked with the six refineries and 47 storage centers in the country.

Shapps added that if necessary, British soldiers can be assigned to drive fuel tankers.

The UK on Saturday saw long queues in front of gas stations after the oil and petrol giant BP and Tesco Alliance announced that a "handful" of petrol stations would be closed in the country due to shortage of truck drivers.

The announcement caused concern among drivers, who fear of shortage of gasoline due to decrease in the number of stations, as they formed long queues in front of petrol stations in the capital London.

According to several reports, the UK faces a shortfall of around 100,000 HGV drivers.

The supply problem also caused empty shelves in some supermarkets in London.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said that Brexit, pandemic, the retirement of drivers, and low wages are among the reasons behind shortage of truck drivers.

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