Published: 20:00, 24 September 2021
| Updated: 21:07, 24 September 2021
The head of a taxi drivers' association says its members face being out of work if the fuel panic buying crisis continues through the weekend.
Nigel Jackson, chairman of the Medway Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (MLTDA), warned of a serious "knock-on effect" in the wider public transport network.
"It's just absolutely ridiculous," he told KentOnline. "From a driver's point of view the message is if you can't get a cab home from your night out then don't be surprised.
"I've got about three quarters of a tank which will last me maybe two shifts.
"But there's a massive knock-on effect on the elderly and vulnerable who rely on us for food shopping or hospital."
Mr Jackson said there was a real risk that if drivers were unable to get fuel because the pumps have been emptied due to panic buying then people may be struggling to work early next week.
All taxi drivers in Medway are self employed and Mr Jackson said the costs of running a car without fuel costs alone run into "several hundred pounds per week".
The government has repeatedly stressed today there is plenty of fuel in the supply chain after issues were reported by BP on Thursday in supplying a handful of its forecourts.
Mr Jackson added he hoped the panic buying seen across the Medway Towns and Kent today would die down within 48 hours but warned if it did not then there would be "a real knock-on effect".
Taxi operators in Medway have contracts with the likes of G4S for hospital transport and Network Rail for train drivers, which Mr Jackson said could be affected if they were unable to do "those longer runs" should they run out of diesel.
"We could be in a situation where it could cause a massive hole in the public transport system," he said.
"We've just had the worst 18 months and trying to get back on our feet. But with no fuel, it means no work. With it falling on a weekend, which is our busiest time, it couldn't have come at a worse time.
"If you lose your weekend trade drivers are playing catch up so it's going to be a long week.
"Fingers crossed this is just going to be a 24 to 48 hour thing and is going to a temporary blip."
Drivers have reported "total gridlock" in Medway due to the high volume of people attempting to fill up.
Mr Jackson said despite the fears about fuel shortages, no drivers had reported being unable to work because they could not fill up but many had spent extra time and fuel sitting in traffic caused by queues outside petrol stations today.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this morning drivers should "carry on as normal" and there was "no need" to panic buy.
But Esso, BP and Tesco petrol forecourts have been impacted by challenges getting petrol deliveries.
BP said that around 20 of its 1,200 petrol forecourts were closed due to a lack of available fuel, with between 50 and 100 sites affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel.