In France, the fuel crisis weakens the nerves and resilience of workers

VERSAILLES, France (AP) — Even around midnight on a school night, the tip was too important to ignore: A nearby gas station had just been restocked.

So Aicha Far picked up her 6-year-old son and left overnight. The home helper needed to fill up her car to be able to continue to care for the vulnerable people on the outskirts of Paris who rely on her to feed, clean and protect them. The…

READ MORE

VERSAILLES, France (AP) — Even around midnight on a school night, the tip was too important to ignore: A nearby gas station had just been restocked.

So Aicha Far picked up her 6-year-old son and left overnight. The home helper needed to fill up her car to be able to continue to care for the vulnerable people on the outskirts of Paris who rely on her to feed, clean and protect them. The prospect of a full tank was worth dragging the child out of bed.

“I wrapped him in a blanket and put him on his back,” Far said on Saturday, as she gently invited an older woman she cares for to drink her hot chocolate for breakfast. .

France’s chronic fuel shortages and panic buying are nerve-wracking and testing both the resilience and ingenuity of millions of French workers who depend on their vehicles to do their jobs.

More than a quarter of petrol stations across the country were still without one type of fuel or more on Saturday, France’s energy minister said. In the Paris region, the number exceeded a third.

Motorists sometimes queued for hours to refuel – not always successfully – and tempers flared.

In the town of Versailles, south-west of Paris, 41-year-old nurse Aurélie Martin tries to empty the precious fuel left in her tank – and prepares for the next time she will have to visit the pumps.

She rises well before dawn to give injections, change dressings and provide other essential medical care to dozens of patients each morning.

Rather than hopping in her Mini from patient to patient, she increasingly rushes on foot between them when she can, racking up 10 kilometers (six miles) of walking each morning to save fuel .

“I do the bare minimum in the car,” she said while touring on Saturday. “I had hoped until now that the situation would improve, but unfortunately it does not seem to be improving.”

The strikes affected French refineries and fuel depots. Strikers have demanded higher wages on what they believe should be their share of the windfall profits generated by high oil and gas prices amid the worsening global energy crisis.

After running on toilet paper, pasta and other necessities during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, fuel and where to find it are the latest obsessions in France. The government urged motorists not to panic. Some gas stations have banned jerry cans.

When Martin bumped into other nurses who were also doing their early morning rounds on Saturday, gasoline was the first thing they talked about.

A nurse who ran out of gas told Martin that one of her patients was offering to lend her his car. On messaging groups, nurses are sharing advice on gas stations that have been restocked or have priority pumps for them and other essential workers.

Martin said some of his fellow nurses were yelled at by other motorists for trying to cut at the start of the lines.

With 30 to 40 patients to be home-visited per day, Martin knows she will need to fill up early next week.

“My day off is Tuesday and I think the full tank I had will last until then,” she said. “So on Tuesday I’ll see if I have to spend the day queuing and that’s what I’ll do if a gas station hasn’t been reserved for us.”

“Truth be told,” she added, “I put off the inevitable moment.”

Copyright © 2022 . All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located in the European Economic Area.

Comments are closed.