Published: 12:25, 26 September 2021
| Updated: 16:01, 26 September 2021
Anxious drivers are causing huge queues at petrol stations for a third day - as many retailers are forced to shut their pumps.
Long lines of cars are forming at forecourts across the county as the fuel crisis continues.
Replacement buses have been delayed between Sevenoaks, Paddock Wood and Tunbridge Wells due to the congestion on the roads.
A shuttle bus is running between Sevenoaks and Hildenborough and passengers are asked to change at Sevenoaks if travelling between Hildenborough and Tonbridge.
Panic buying rather than supply chain issues is driving the shortage, the president of a motoring association says.
It comes as pictures circulate on social media of people filling up gerry cans in a bid to stockpile fuel.
Edmund King, the president of the AA, told BBC Breakfast the problem should pass soon if drivers fill up only when they need to.
But other industry experts have pointed the finger towards the Covid pandemic, Brexit and grievances over pay and working conditions leading to a shortage of lorry drivers.
Today, drivers continue to queue where they can find fuel in preparation for the working week.
KentOnline reporter Sean Axtell struggled to fill up this morning.
He visited six petrol stations in the Folkestone and Hythe District - only two of which had fuel.
The BP garages in Seabrook, Cheriton and Hythe had all shut down their pumps, as had Sainsbury’s in the Park Farm industrial estate in Folkestone and the Gulf station in Tram Road.
The Shell in Cheriton had huge queues backing onto Cheriton Road, forcing drivers to pass on the wrong side of the road.
The Tesco superstore in Cheriton High Street also had fuel, with dozens of cars on the forecourt and queues stretching into the main road.
The Spar Parkfoot garage on the A20 West Malling is prioritising fuel for hospital workers.
“We’re trying to prioritise NHS workers, but to be honest most of the people in the queue are NHS workers,” the manager said in a video on social media.
“We do have about 4,000 litres of unleaded left which should last the afternoon, but diesel we have about 15,000 litres which should last most of the day, I hope.
“So I’m sorry if you’re in the queue and you’re having to wait but we’re doing the very best we can.
Fuel pumps ran dry yesterday at service stations on both the M2 and M20 as motorists continue to panic buy.
There is still no fuel available on the M20 service station at junction 8 for Leeds Castle.
It comes after days of queues and delays around many forecourts and motorists queueing through the night to fill up - causing headaches to many and fears among tourists they could end up being stranded.
The government is planning to give temporary visas to over 10,000 workers to get Christmas back on track after concerns were raised about a supply shortage.
Downing Street sources said the scheme, which reports suggest will temporarily lift visa restrictions for foreign drivers, is to be a “short-term solution”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association said the creation of 5,000 HGV foreign driver visas, announced by the government on Saturday, was unlikely to alleviate petrol pressures in the “ultra-short term”.
“We might see benefits of them later in the autumn as the drivers come across and start to work, but in the very short term this panic buying has caused really serious problems,” he said.
“I’ve talked to a lot of our members this morning. They serve the main roads, the rural areas, the urban roads, and anywhere in between 50% and 90% of their forecourts are currently dry, and those that aren’t dry are partly dry and running out soon.
“There is plenty of fuel in this country but it is in the wrong place for the motorists. It is still in the terminals and the refineries, and the amount they can now ship into and deliver to the forecourts is limited by two things.
“One, the availability of the hardware, the tankers themselves. These are specialist tankers able to deliver in pods, in those big trucks, a wide variety of fuels to the forecourts.
“There is a finite number of those and there is obviously a finite number of trained drivers, and that has been the problem, that that number of finite number of drivers has been reduced.”