Mexico seeks 2,000 drivers for new fleet of fuel trucks

Mexico City, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- The Mexican government said Friday that it plans to hire 2,000 drivers for a new fleet of tanker trucks to ease fuel shortages.

"I reiterate the appeal to the drivers to help us. Because we need 2,000 drivers as soon as possible," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at his daily morning press conference.

Large-scale theft of gasoline and diesel from pipelines cost Mexico an estimated $3.4 billion in 2018. Soon after taking office on Dec. 1, the president ordered state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) to address the problem.

Pemex adopted a new fuel-distribution strategy that involves delivering gasoline and diesel from refineries and ports to urban distribution centers via tanker trucks rather than pipelines.

The change has caused supply shortages in at least 10 states and Mexico City, forcing the closure of some filling stations and prompting panic buying.

Lopez Obrador announced days ago the purchase of between 500 and 1,000 additional tanker trucks and he said Friday that the government expects to begin taking delivery of the new units next week.

"With the trucks, we will increase the capacity for fuel distribution by around 25 percent," he said.

When asked what the salary of the new truck drivers will be, Lopez Obrador said that it would be on the order of 29,000 pesos ($1,518) a month, shocking the reporters.

"Why are you surprised? We will talk about your salary as well when the time comes," he said, alluding to the notoriously low pay for journalists in Mexico.