PETROL stations across the Portsmouth area are tonight packed with motorists panic-buying over the fuel drivers dispute.
Some service stations in our area have reportedly run out of fuel and others are running low as people stock up.
It follows a vote by fuel drivers in the Unite union to strike in a row over conditions and safety.
Among petrol stations shutting early in Portsmouth is Jet in Portsmouth Road, Cosham, which has closed two hours earlier than normal as it is running out of fuel.
About 800 people had filled up there by 7.30pm compared to about 300 on an average day.
Tina Bradley, who works at the petrol station, said: ‘It’s been flat-out. Everyone’s been panicking. The amount of fuel they’ve been buying is a lot more than normal.
‘We usually shut at 10pm. We’re having to shut at 8pm.’
At Eastern Road Service Station in Portsmouth the number of customers had almost doubled by about 8pm.
Kula Thyeagarajuh who works there said: ‘We’ve been very busy. People have been queuing up all day. We’ve had about 500 people so far. Normally it would be about 300. People are panicking.’
Dave Lock, who works at BP in Fitzherbert Road, Farlington, said: ‘We’ve run out of diesel. It’s been a lot busier than it normally is.’
Meanwhile some people took to Twitter to warn motorists off panic buying.
Mark Burch tweeted: ‘Queuing off the forecourt for petrol at Tesco Havant #strike not happening yet no need to panic buy’.
Gary Robinson wrote: ‘Just been for fuel at Tesco Havant. Nearly run out of diesel!’
Portsmouth City Council is preparing a contingency strategy so crucial emergency services are not affected by proposed industrial action.
Army drivers are being trained to deliver fuel from places such as Fawley refinery near Southampton to services stations if necessary.
The rush comes as the government faces growing criticism following a controversial call for motorists to fill up spare jerry cans with petrol and keep them in garages.
The Fire Brigade Union has said the advice from cabinet office minister Francis Maude should be withdrawn due to the threat of fire, warning it will ‘massively increase’ the risk of fire and explosions.
But a Downing Street spokesman said there is no fuel shortage at the moment and service stations are still being replenished.
The AA has warned people off hoarding petrol at home or in garage amid safety fears.