A shortage of HGV drivers in the UK has seen the Army’s drivers being put on standby to help with delivering food and essential supplies.
According to the Sun on Sunday, a request for military help from the government is expected shortly.
That could see 2,000 HGV drivers from various regiments, including the Royal Logistics Corps, being put on five-day notice to help with the distribution of essential supplies.
The move follows growing issues with a shortage of qualified truck drivers in the UK and issues with the ‘Pingdemic’ with drivers being told to stay at home.
‘Messages sent to Army personnel with HGV qualifications’
An army source told the newspaper: “Messages are being sent out to all Army personnel with HGV qualifications.
“They are being put on five-day standby notice for driving jobs at major distribution centres around the country.
“Soldiers will be put up in hotels where necessary and will be working extended hours to assist with the crisis.”
The source added: “They will be involved with food distribution as well as the transportation of other essential goods and medical supplies.”
Temporary extension of drivers’ working time rules
The move follows the government’s temporary extension of drivers’ working time rules which moved from nine hours to 10.
That enables drivers to make longer journeys, but the move was described as a ‘sticking plaster’ by the Road Haulage Association (RHA).
Various organisations have called on the government in recent weeks to consider using the Army’s HGV drivers to meet demand, including Premier Foods.
Along with Asda, they made the call for military intervention at a meeting between food industry representatives and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Using military personnel for delivering food
However, after that meeting took place, the government said they had no plans for using military personnel for delivering food and essential supplies.
But the Sun on Sunday says that the MoD has been discussing the transport crisis with DEFRA officials.
A source told the newspaper: “HGV drivers in the Royal Logistics Corps have been told they are on five days’ notice. The call is expected by the end of September.”
Extending drivers’ working hours
Mr McKenzie said that extending the drivers’ working hours was a ‘terrible move’ and had been rejected by many employers as being ‘dangerous’.
He added that enlisting the Army’s HGV drivers to help was ‘not a good idea’.
He said: “The government’s next step is to bring in the Army. There are 2,000 qualified HGV drivers in the Army. [But] we’re 100,000 lorry drivers short.
“Another issue is Army drivers are used to driving Army lorries and not civilian vehicles. Once again, they are using a short-term fix. It is not a good idea. We need to address what to do to get another 100,000 drivers.”