Government sends in riot police to break blockades, as distributors agree to work together to top up 4,000 stations
20 October 2010 01:00
THE GOVERNMENT has pledged to put a stop to France’s petrol shortage by the end of the week.
Riot police were drafted in early this morning to break up blockades at three key depots in Donges, Le Mans and La Rochelle.
Eighteen depots remain blocked and 4,000 petrol stations are dry this morning – about a third of all the outlets in France – according to the ecology ministry.
Prime minister François Fillon held a crisis meeting yesterday afternoon in which he pledged to get petrol stations topped up again within “four to five days”.
A deal has been reached between distributors and petrol station groups to share their reserve stocks and bring in trucks from abroad to keep the supply chain flowing.
Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday that measures would be taken to stop the fuel depot blockades in order to “guarantee public order”.
The first of these measures saw CRS riot police break up three blockades around 4.00 this morning. Interior minister Brice Hortefeux said more operations would be carried out as necessary.
Small and medium business body CGPME said the shortage was starting to have an impact on firms’ productivity, with employees starting to find it difficult to get to work.
Ninety of the 250 pumps specially reserved for truck drivers are dry. The Fédération nationale des transports routiers said these should be topped up as a priority, as there was “a risk of paralysing the economy” if drivers were unable to make deliveries this week.
The préfecture in Calvados has requisitioned a number of petrol stations in the department to serve medical workers as a priority.
Some MPs within Sarkozy’s own party have accused the government of playing down the problem and appearing disconnected from the reality on the ground.
A collaborative map has been set up online, where road users can report which stations have run out of fuel.
Photo: richard villalon – Fotolia.com