A trucking group whose British Columbia fleet was taken off the province’s roads last week when a load slammed into an overpass also operates an Alberta trucking firm that officials say is still allowed to work in B.C.
B.C.’s Transport Ministry says in a statement it has reached out to counterparts in Alberta about the suspension of the safety certificate for Chohan Freight Forwarders’ 65-truck fleet.
The statement came after social media users shared photographs they said were taken in B.C. this week that showed trucks branded “Chohan Group” and “Edmonton.”
A truck operated by Langley, B.C., based Chohan Freight Forwarders was involved in the Dec. 28 crash that lodged a steel girder in an overpass over Highway 99 in Delta.
Asked about the posts, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation said in a statement that “Chohan also operates in Alberta as a separate entity,” under that province’s jurisdiction.
“Generally speaking, carriers from one province may operate in other jurisdictions provided they carry the appropriate insurance,” said Rob Duffus, communications manager at the ministry.
“Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement is looking into this further, and is communicating with regulators in Alberta who are aware of the B.C. company’s suspension here.”
A voice-mail message for the Edmonton-based Chohan Group referred callers to a person called Sunny Chohan.
A person with that name on LinkedIn says they are the president and owner of Chohan Carriers. Trucks shown on Chohan Carriers’ website carry branding for both Chohan Freight Forwarders and Chohan Group.
Chohan Group’s LinkedIn page says it operates in both Langley and Edmonton but is headquartered in Langley, while Sunny Chohan’s LinkedIn page includes a May 2023 press release on behalf of Chohan Freight Forwarders that said it had “approximately 100 truck and 300 trailers” on the road.
Carly Hunter with Chohan Group Ltd. said the company wouldn’t make a statement.
Chohan Freight Forwarders has been involved in six B.C. infrastructure strikes in the past two years, according to government statistics.
Duffus said its fleet remains grounded while Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement looks into last week’s crash.
“As the result of regulatory changes, the province has made working with (the Insurance Corporation of B.C.), the company is prevented from transferring any of its vehicles in B.C., or operating them under another company name in this province,” Duffus said in the statement.
Duffus said an investigation is ongoing over the Delta incident and the outcome could lead to further action.
The latest “brush” of an overpass by a commercial high load came Tuesday in Chilliwack, the Ministry of Transportation confirmed Wednesday. There was no damage, the ministry said.
More than 30 overpass strikes in the pasts two years by trucks represent a safety concern for all British Columbians, but blaming the drivers isn’t the solution, said Gagan Singh, a spokesman for the United Truckers Association.
“It hurts as a trucker that we do feel very, very upset whenever these kinds of accidents happen again,” said Singh, whose group represents about 1,000 members who work in Metro Vancouver.
The association issued an “urgent call” on Wednesday to the Ministry of Transportation to conduct a wide-ranging safety review of the provincial supply chain.
“We need to stop this blaming game. Like rather than blaming the drivers, another part is the province needs to understand why these accidents are happening,” Singh said in an interview.
Transportation Minister Rob Fleming was unavailable for an interview on Wednesday.
In a lawsuit related to an overpass strike, Chohan Carriers was awarded damages from one of its drivers.
Chohan Carriers Ltd. won a $14,771 judgment in March 2021 against an employee who damaged an overpass while delivering a load through Kamloops.
The B.C. Provincial Court judgment said the driver was “cautioned twice by Carly Hunter of Chohan about the over-height load he was carrying and to avoid the underpass in Kamloops.”
The employee, however, “drove under the underpass causing damage to Chohan’s truck, the freight heading to Chohan’s customer, and the overpass. Chohan was also ticketed for the driving offence.”
The company sued the employee who didn’t heed Hunter’s warnings for damage to the truck, damage to the freight it was hauling and lost revenue.
The employee, the judgment said, signed a letter acknowledging his liability for the violation ticket the company received after the accident and for any damages for repairs from the City of Kamloops.
— With files from Darryl Greer
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2024.