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Banned after overpass crashes, Aldergrove trucking firm takes B.C. to court

Premier: “My only hope is that on the way to court, they don’t run into a bridge.”
A vehicle incident at the 112th St overpass in Delta on Dec. 28 led to an Aldergrove trucking firm losing its safety certificate. (Facebook photo)

An Aldergrove-based trucking firm linked to several overpass collisions around the Lower Mainland is taking the province to court after the company’s safety certificate was yanked.

Chohan Freight Forwarders lost its safety certificate on Dec. 29, one day after a truck carrying the company’s logo slammed into the Highway 99 overpass at 112th Street in Delta.

It was the sixth impact with an overpass by a Chohan truck in a little over two years, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming noted when he announced the measures.

The strict enforcement by the director of commercial vehicle safety was part of an attempt to stop a string of impacts that have snarled traffic and damaged overpasses around the region in recent years. All the crashes involved drivers attempting to take overheight loads down major highways.

Losing its safety certificate meant that Chohan Freight’s 65-vehicle fleet in BC. was brought to a halt, which it says has cost losses of more than $1 million a week, along with losing contracts and clients worth around $2-3 million.

On Feb. 5, Chohan petitioned the B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria, asking for an order setting aside the suspension.

The petition notes that this is the second suspension of Chohan’s certificate, which was suspended in June 2022 until the company worked out a safety plan with provincial authorities. The first suspension lasted 22 days.

Chohan’s petition also says that the truck involved in the Dec. 28 crash in Delta was being driven by an owner-operator, who was not an employee of Chohan but took dispatches from the company. The trucks had to have Chohan logos under regulations covered by the safety certificate, the petition says.

According to Chohan, the most recent crash began with a contract to deliver equipment from Delta to Ferndale, Washington.

When the driver arrived to pick up the load, which he had been told would be 14.1 feet high, he found it was actually 15 feet high, and therefore an overheight load.

The driver called the Chohan dispatcher, who told him to wait until he had a permit and new route for an oversized load.

However, Chohan claims the driver did not wait, and at the advice of friends headed out onto Highway 99, where he crashed into the 112th Street overpass.

The petition also says the driver has since given a written statement accepting full responsibility for failing to follow directions.

“As a result of the suspension, the petitioner [Chohan] was required to park all commercial motor vehicles and cease on-road operations,” the court documents say.

Chohan Freight has requested the lifting of the suspension as far back as Jan. 5, through the firm’s lawyer. According to the suspension, the province has refused to lift the suspension, saying the investigation was ongoing, and that the suspension was “desirable in order to ensure road safety.”

On Jan. 23, Chohan Freight received a letter from provincial authorities, saying the suspension would stay in place and the province was seeking to cancel the safety certificate outright.

The petition emphasizes the financial impact on the company and its employees, including company drivers and owner operators.

It also argues that the suspension was unreasonable.

“The petitioner [Chohan Freight] says that, given the record with respect to the incident and the delay in issuance of a notice of cancellation, the continued suspension is unreasonable.”

None of the claims in the petition have been tested in court.

Premier David Eby was dismissive of Chohan’s lawsuit when asked about it at an unrelated press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

He called Chohan “one of the worst offenders” given that they have hit six overpasses.

“The astonishing part is that the company thinks that they should be still able to operate,” Eby said.

He offered some advice on any upcoming court appearances.

“My only hope is that on the way to court, they don’t run into a bridge,” Eby said. “I encourage them to take the bus or some other form of public transit on the way to the courthouse.”

READ MORE: Langley trucking firm off roads after latest overpass crash

In addition to the Dec. 28 incident, Chohan’s overpass crashes include:

• June 6, 2022 on Highway 1 in Langley

• June 1, 2022 on Highway 1 in Richmond

• Feb. 17, 2022 on Highway 99 in Delta (the same overpass struck on Dec. 28, 2023)

• Feb. 12, 2022 on Highway 1 in Langley at 264th Street

• Dec. 10, 2021 on Highway 1 in Surrey

Chohan’s petition notes that those incidents were attributed to either driver error, failing to follow an approved route, or having an incorrect permit.

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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