British Columbia trucking company sues to overturn suspension

Chohan Freight Forwarders Ltd. said the driver of the truck whose cargo crashed into a Delta overpass on Dec. 28 ignored company policy.

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A BC trucking company responsible for a series of overpass accidents will go to court in a bid to overturn its suspension.

Chohan Freight Forwarders Ltd. had its certificate suspended following a Dec. 28 accident on the 112th Street overpass on Highway 99 in Delta, the latest in a series of overpass strikes over the past two years.

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Since then it has suffered losses of more than $1 million a week and has lost clients and contracts worth between $2 million and $3 million, according to a petition filed Monday in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

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According to the petition, the company-branded truck was driven by an owner-operator, Jasper Sangha, who was supposed to deliver a load from a metal manufacturing plant in Delta to Ferndale, Washington.

The load was not expected to be too large, but when the driver arrived at the plant, he found that the load measured 15 feet, which would require a permit and a different route.

Sangha called the company and a security official told him to wait and “take no further action.” But at the suggestion of friends, Sangha ignored the directive and decided that the cargo can be carried along Highway 99, according to the petition.

At 12:20 p.m., the truck and its load collided with the 112th Street overpass.

“The indisputable evidence is that the incident involved a decision by an independent contractor to ignore the petitioner’s security policy and carry a charge against the petitioner’s express direction,” he said in the court document.

He has ended his relationship with Sangha, who he said has accepted full responsibility for acting against company policy.

Following the accident, the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Control branch suspended the company’s certificate, halting all road operations.

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The company said it responded promptly to law enforcement requests for information, describing 10 interactions between Dec. 29 and Jan. 16, including seeking updates on the investigation.

On January 23, he was told that the investigation had ended and that the suspension would remain in place pending the cancellation of his certificate. Issuing a cancellation notice, along with preparing supporting evidence, could take up to three months.

As of Monday, the company had not received a cancellation order, according to the petition, and cannot contest the cancellation until the notice has been issued. “The petitioner finds himself in an administrative ‘no man’s land’, with no ability to conduct business and no ability to challenge the (CVSE) decision.”

The company said it is losing millions and that its 63 employees, drivers and owner-operators, have been unable to work and are suffering financial hardship.

He argued that the suspension was “unreasonable” and was not made to ensure road safety, but to penalize the company.

The allegations made in the petition have not been proven in court.

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The Dec. 28 crash caused significant damage to the 112th Street overpass and closed both lanes of Highway 99.

At the time, Transport Minister Rob Fleming said: “This suspension is the result of the company’s unwillingness or inability to operate safely within the province, following its sixth infrastructure collapse in two years”.

The six crashes with overpasses occurred between December 10, 2021 and December 28, 2023. After the fifth crash on Highway 1 against the 264th Street overpass on June 8, CVSE issued a suspension. The ban was lifted 22 days later, after the company submitted a “safety action plan.”

Court records show one of the company’s trucks crashed into another overpass in Kamloops before the province began compiling its list in late 2021, bringing the total of overpass strikes to seven.

Chohan companies, including Chohan Freight Forwarders and Chohan Carriers and Eternity Transport, have been charged with 130 violations of the Motor Vehicle Act between 2010 and 2022.

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– with files from Gordon Hoekstra

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