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Fuel panic buying crisis leaves people unable to make it into work as Kent petrol pumps continue to see huge demand

A fourth day of frenzied panic buying has left many unable to get to work – but suppliers say an end is in sight.

Various petrol stations across Kent ran dry over the weekend.

More fuel tanker deliveries have been made today but long snaking queues have been a permanent feature outside forecourts.

In Ashford one user reported long waiting times at Sainsbury's Bybrook Superstore following a recent delivery.

He said: "The queue looks massive going all the way around the car park but it moves very quickly."

Angry motorists took to social media last night to vent their frustration at the queues which have seen roads gridlocked and altercations at the pumps.

One user said her partner hasn’t been able to get fuel all weekend and now can’t get to work today, whilst a worried parent commented they had "just enough fuel" to do the school run.

In Snodland a resident said: "I need to top up next week and every garage in Snodland is empty."

Another quipped: "Wish I had enough petrol to be able to wait in a queue."

Uber driver Charles Cardoso is among those currently stuck at home and is unable to make any trips and earn money.

The Gillingham resident told KentOnline: "At the moment I can't do anything because I have very low fuel.

"If I go to the queue I will spend about an hour or two."

The dad says he is trying to conserve what little fuel he has left to ensure he can carry out essential family trips, including picking up and dropping off the kids at school.

Uber driver and small logistics company owner Charles Cardozo has been unable to work due to the difficulty accessing fuel.
Uber driver and small logistics company owner Charles Cardozo has been unable to work due to the difficulty accessing fuel.

Locally he says the only station with fuel available is Tesco but there are huge queues with no guarentees once you reach the pump.

"It is absolutely crazy everywhere," he adds. "We can't find any fuel anywhere."

And Charles says it is already starting to impact the cost of journeys taken with the ride-sharing app with standard three mile trips once fetching £6 now costing upwards of £25.

The driver has also seen the fuel panic buying crisis hit his small logistics company.

Charles would normally have four drivers out on the roads delivering parcels today but because of the difficulty accessing fuel he now only has one.

He said: "All the parcels are going to be delayed. 100 per cent.

"If you go to the depot now you will see all the vans and the lorries outside. We have the drivers but we don't have fuel."

Charles hopes to see a resolution to the problem soon ahead of key festive trading periods.

"We have just three months left until Christmas time," he explains. "Think about the Christmas time, all the deliveries and the taxis are very special and high demand.

"If we don't have the diesel what are we going to do? We are going to collapse."

His words were echoed by the head of a taxi drivers' association in Medway which warned its members face being out of work if the fuel panic buying crisis continues.

Hundreds responded to a question posed by KentOnline today about how the crisis was impacting their daily lives.

Maz Ashford: "It’s utter madness! Causing chaos on the roads and the supermarkets with petrol stations are suffering as no one can get into the store car parks to buy food."

Caroline Brenchley said: "I'm very concerned. I haven’t joined the madness but first thing tomorrow I have to drive to Canterbury for a scan. I’m not sure if I will find any fuel for my journey home."

Dale Sharman added: "All clear today but garages are ripping customers off in Sittingbourne with some raising their prices by 10p a litre."

Sarah Taylor said: "It's not good when I'm a NHS community nurse and need fuel ASAP. All of Folkestone has none as far as I know. I can't keep driving around looking as I'm on the red already. How I'm meant to work from Wednesday I don't know."

But Tracy Marchant was finally able to brag about her choice of vehicle.

"Bought my funny little electric car nine years ago, much to everyone’s amusement, who is having the last laugh now?" she said.

And Lee Richard Evenden joked: "For me it’s been non stop petrol queues waiting and filling multiple fuel cans before coming home and storing it in bin bags (they’re OK if you triple layer the strong ones and don’t move them) then out to do it all again. Hopefully the floor can take the weight as the old fella downstairs smokes like a chimney."

It comes as UK companies are currently grappling with a nationwide shortage of HGV drivers with some blaming Brexit and delays caused by the pandemic.

The pumps had run dry at the Esso in Boxley Road, Maidstone
The pumps had run dry at the Esso in Boxley Road, Maidstone

But the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hit back at these claims and instead blamed an "irresponsible briefing" from the Road Haulage Association for panic buying.

Petrol stations have now put price caps in place in an effort to curb motorists from stocking up on fuel unnecessarily.

The surge in demand led the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) to warn that as many as two-thirds of its membership of nearly 5,500 independent outlets were out of fuel yesterday with the rest of them “partly dry and running out soon”.

Worry over depleted stocks prompted Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to take emergency action following a meeting with oil companies and retailers.

The minister opted to temporarily exempt the industry from the Competition Act to allow providers to share information so it can target areas where fuel supply is running low.

And the Prime Minister is also said to be considering whether to call in soldiers to deliver fuel to petrol stations as pumps run dry again.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson – who described the purchasing rate as “frenzied” – told the BBC the forecourt closures and depleted pumps were down to “panic buying, pure and simple”.

He explained motorway service stations were to to be given priority, with one such stop-off point reporting a 500% spike in demand compared to last week.

Fuel suppliers including BP, Shell and Esso said in a joint statement earlier how they expect the crisis to be over in a few days as cars now have more fuel than normal.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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