London and the South-East remain the worst affected areas with around 20% of petrol stations said to be empty
Only 127 drivers from the EU had applied through the scheme, the prime minister confirmed today, compared to the 300 visas that are available.
Johnson repeated previous comments that the driver shortage was a “global” issue but added there was a “particular problem in the UK”.
Army personnel were deployed yesterday for the first time to help ease the crisis but the lack of interest from foreign drivers might mean the military is needed for longer than expected, said reports today.
Rod McKenzie, director of policy at the Road Haulage Association, told the Times: “People don’t want to come unless it is a really attractive alternative. You don’t give up a well-paid job for a better-paid job if it will only last a few months.”
The temporary visas run out in March, by which time the government’s plan is to have more drivers trained up.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Johnson denied Brexit was the cause of the current shortages, which have affected food as well as petrol, and said there had been underinvestment in pay and facilities with the problems linked to recovery in other parts of the world.
London and the South-East remain the worst affected areas with around 20% of petrol stations said to be empty of fuel compared to around 6% further north.
The government meanwhile came under fire yesterday for not deploying all of its reserve tanker fleet to help ease the situation in the south.
Pictures of thirty tankers sitting idle in their depot in Cambridgeshire sparked calls for the government and fuel suppliers to work more closely together to get deliveries moving again.
Brian Madderson, the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) told The Telegraph: “It’s extremely disappointing that so much of the reserve fleet is being unused when some of our members haven’t had any fuel for nine days.”
According to the report, 46 of the government’s fleet of 80 vehicles were on the roads by mid-afternoon and by the end of the week, 150 crews are scheduled to be in operation.
Petrol stations in London and the South East are expected to be the focus of the Army operation, which is codenamed Escalin.
Read More: Foreign tanker drivers shun chance to work in UK as petrol crisis rumbles on