THE owner of a haulage firm in Blackwood has spoken of the impact lockdown and the subsequent panic buying at the pumps has had on her business - as well as life as a woman in the male-dominated industry.

Stephanie Pearce is the owner of 2 Sisters Haulage Ltd - operating two HGVs in the construction sector.

She says that, as well as the well-documented issues with driver numbers across the UK, the ones who have been out the roads have been "unfairly penalised" in recent weeks as panic buying set in at the pumps.

Ms Pearce says that discount fuel cards, an everyday part of the HGV industry, had been refused when she tried to fill her lorry with fuel near Nantgarw Hill - meaning she couldn't afford to keep her trucks on the road.


"The government says there’s a shortage of HGV drivers but we’re getting penalised for trying to use our fuel cards," Ms Pearce said.

"They’re making the problem worse.

"We’re fighting a losing battle. Struggling with drivers – they’re making it worse.

"It's ridiculous. After Covid too."

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During lockdown, Ms Pearce had to find work driving lorries for Tesco due to the lack of work in the construction industry at the time.

"Now the work is there but I can’t get the fuel," she said.

"It’s hard enough being the owner of the firm as it is."

"It really needs highlighting," she said.

The petrol station in question, Ms Pearce said, was a Morrison's store in Nantgarw Hill.

However, Morrison's said that the forecourt was, in fact, operated by Rontec Roadside Retail - who were unavailable for comment.

As well as the issues with actually getting lorries on the road, the problems don't end there.

Ms Pearce says she is "probably the only woman driver/owner in the area" and she said the reason for that can be put down, in large part to one word - facilities.

"There are no facilities for women. No facilities," she said.

"It’s not good for anyone’s mental health.

"There's absolutely nothing at the truck parks.

"During Covid all the toilets at the petrol stations were closed too.

"It was horrendous."

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However, she said that her most recent base, in Swindon, had been better.

"In Swindon they were great to be fair," she said.

"They parked me right by the CCTV and the showers were clean-ish."

Alongside the inadequate facilities or lack thereof, Ms Pearce said there was also the continued issue of prejudice and contempt in what is still a largely male-dominated industry.

"The amount of comments you get from men,"she said.

"They patronise you the whole time.

"You have to be a far better driver than you would normally have to be to prove to them you can do it.

"You just have to put up with it."