Indian truckers in Canada form association

February 26th, 2008 - 12:03 pm ICT by admin  

Toronto, Feb 26 (IANS) Indo-Canadians, who control more than 60 percent of the trucking business here, have come together to form the Indian Trucking Association (ITA). This is the first such body of Indian-origin truckers in North America.

“We could be the first ‘desi’ trucking association outside India. We are attracting not only Indo-Canadian truckers but also others - whites and those of Pakistani and Caribbean origin,” ITA president Nachhattar Singh Chohan told IANS.

He said the truckers have decided to come under the umbrella of the ITA to take up their long-pending grievances with the government.

Because of their huge numbers and economic clout, politicians of all hues are now wooing the unionised truckers.

Leaders from all parties, including New Democratic Party (NDP) boss Jack Layton, came for its formal launch last month.

And Ontario Transport Minister Jim Bradley was quick to grant them an audience to listen to their grievances.

“Earlier, nobody listened to us. Now the minister called us and assured he would look into our problems. Since most truckers speak Punjabi, he promised to appoint Punjabi-speaking officers at major inspection points,” said Chohan.

He said Indo-Canadian truckers play a key role in the Canadian economy, as trucking is its lifeline. “Trucking is Canada’s fourth largest industry, and we have decided to flex our muscle.”

He said they have demanded if a driver is stopped for overweight or other problems, the loader or shipper, not he, should be penalised. “There are so many problems like this for us,” he said.

Chohan said Canada was facing acute shortage of truckers as many Indo-Canadians were quitting this profession because of the attitude of the white transport staff.

The minister promised to meet ITA representatives each month to sort out these issues, he said.

“We are also planning monthly seminars, in collaboration with the government, on issues facing us. The first such seminar will be held March 16,” the ITA chief said.

The ITA would also hold Canada’s first-ever Indo-Canadian truck show - to be called Truck World - in August in partnership with manufacturers, insurance companies and the government.

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