IN an unprecedented legal challenge, 25 trucking companies representing over 500 of British Columbia’s most experienced semi truckers will receive a judicial review of the Transport License application process recently implemented by the Port of Metro Vancouver.
The companies were in Vancouver Federal Court on Tuesday, February 17, seeking judicial intervention as to the decision-making process and lack of transparency that surrounds it.
The judge granted the other side a week to get their case together and the matter will be dealt with in court on February 25, truckers spokesperson Michelle Mann told The VOICE.
The current system, which came into effect February 1, has received numerous complaints over the fact that 25 longstanding trucking companies have received five days notice that they will no longer be licensed to operate at the Port, a move that experts say is a shock to the industry. This new system means that hundreds of experienced drivers and over $60 million dollars of equipment will be out of work in the province, at a time when companies who did receive licenses have moved to 24-hour shifts to try and meet demand.
“It’s unbelievable. My company has some of the most experienced drivers with extremely strong safety records and some of the newest trucks on the road, and we were turned down for a license despite our company having over 20 years of experience at the Port,” says Michelle Mann of Safe Way Trucking.
The system, which now involves a single staffer making the decision on which trucks and drivers stay on BC’s roads – and which are shut down – involves a point system that experts and veterans in the industry agree has no transparency, no consistency, and no accountability to the people of BC.
“Nobody can tell us the scoring criteria, why companies with stellar safety records and new fleets are not being granted licenses,” says Sucha Seikhon, owner of Goodrich Transport. “The greatest shock is that companies that don’t have records even close to ours are being given licenses and are now moving to 24 hour shifts to keep up with demand, which is not good for the wear and tear and safety of the trucks. It’s shocking that BC’s roads are being made unsafe with zero accountability and oversight.”
The move, which saw hundreds of drivers and secondary jobs such as mechanics put out of work on five days notice, means dozens of BC small businesses will be shutting their doors, without explanation as to why they didn’t make the cut.
“Everyone is getting different stories from the Port, but one thing is clear – quality companies with great safety records are out and nobody can explain why. The system is broken and there is huge risk to both businesses and drivers on the road,” says Seikhon.
The decisions will mean that in excess of $60 million dollars in equipment, millions of dollars in payroll and jobs and hundreds of millions of goods slated for transport are in jeopardy.