How Punjabis came to dominate trucking industry in Canada

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Nachhattar Singh Chohan, an Indo-Canadian trucking transporter from the Toronto area.

By Gurmukh Singh

TORONTO: When you think of cab and truck driving, you think of Punjabis. Canada is no exception. In fact, Punjabis claim to dominate the trucking industry in Canada.

Nachhattar Singh Chohan, Toronto area’s known community leader who is the founder president of the Indian Trucking Association, is one such typical success story in the trucking industry in Canada.

“We Punjabis control more than 60 percent of all trucking operations in Canada. There is a perpetual shortage of truck drivers and mechanics and new Punjabi immigrants fill this need,’’ says Chohan who came to Canada in 1980 from Budhi Pind near Hoshiarpur in Punjab.

Like any new immigrant, he says he too struggled in his earlier years as he worked in factories before finding his true calling – trucking.

“When I started my own company in the mid-1990s, there were only a few Indians in this business. Punjabis are famous for one thing – if one starts something, everyone follows him. That’s how they have entered the trucking business here and virtually taken over it,’’ says Chohan who operates his own fleet of truck-trailers under the name of CH TransX.

Nachhattar-Singh-Chohan
Nachhattar Singh Chohan.

Explaining the fascination of even well-qualified Punjabi immigrants for the trucking business, he says, “Punjabi immigrants come to Canada to make money and make it very fast. But the only jobs available to them are in factories where they can’t make more than $400 to $500 week. However, as a trucker driver, they can easily make between $4,000 and $5,000 a month. I have drivers who make even up to $7,000 a month. From truck driving, many have gone on to start own transport companies.’’

Giving another reason, he says, “Trucking is a tough business. But Punjabi immigrants are ready to rough it out. That’s they have succeeded beyond any imagination. Some of them have even more than 500 truck-trailers today. We have created thousands of jobs for Canada.’’

Chohan’s own story is typical of most Punjabi truckers in Canada. “I worked with a brake manufacturing companies for 13 years – from 1980 to 1993. While working in that company, I got an offer from the Toronto Star newspaper to become their delivery man. Initially, they gave me their own delivery van. After some time, they asked me to buy a van and then they asked me to buy a bigger truck to delivery more newspapers. When I went to buy the truck, the dealer charged $25,000. But the dealer had bought it for just $10,000 from a transport company. I happened to meet the man who had sold this truck to the dealer. He offered to sell second-hand trucks directly to me at a much cheaper rate. I said okay. That’s how I started in trucking. First, I bought four trucks from him and then kept adding.’’

Nachhattar-Singh-Chohan
Nachhattar Singh Chohan in his office in Mississauga.

He says his reputation as a community leader started fetching him freight orders from major companies.

But as his trucking business grew, Chohan says he personally became familiar with the problems faced by Punjabi truckers at the hands of the transport, police and border officials.

“That’s why formed the Indian Trucking Association in 2008. The mainstream media and government officials interacted with us as they wanted to educate themselves about our problems.’’ Though not all their problems have been solved, they pay attention to our grievances, he says.

“The growth of the trucking industry around the Punjabi community has also fostered a sense of identity and togetherness among our people,’’ claims Chohan who for years sponsored Canada’s hugely successful TV programme called Insight Into Sikhism.

READ NEXT: Don’t make the mistake of migrating to Canada, it’s fool’s paradise

READ NEXT: How Punjabi in Canada became the third most spoken language

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19 COMMENTS

  1. I need a driver job sir plz help me.I am in India.my mobile no :- +919873517009

    ( AMRITDHARI GURSIKH )

  2. I want to come to CANADA as a Truck Driver . I want to earn a lot of money so that I could give my family the best life. Also I’m eager to serve the country , CANADA.

  3. Live in India with old parent & wife they depent only on me because I am middle class family. Sir need support. 12th passed. Experience 3yrs transport driving .age 39yrs.

  4. Punjabis are destroying the trucking industry in Canada…they are the worst and most dangerous steering wheel holders in the country!
    Ship each and everyone of them back to India!

  5. I know this fellow some. He told me more of his story. Yes he started for Canada Post years ago. Eventually he bought his own truck. But he put the same license plate on his big truck and never got his AZ for 10 years before he got caught. He also told me that he currently keeps buying up small one owner trucking companies so that when his safety record gets too bad with his current operating name he can flip all the trucks and get a fresh start. His words,not mine. Listen folks…collisions with big trucks is up 38% this year in Ontario. And they have a 60% share in the business. These are the facts the media won’t say. I reckon this comment won’t stay up either.

    • Eggsaladactly ! I was born and live in Saskatchewan -have been trucking for 15 years-the last 10 in my own rig- they’re an unsafe plague-in a world where safety is absolutely number one why does our government insist on handing out licenses to the very people who have the worst driving records-quit hiding the facts Trudumb- #still waiting for the investigation facts from the tragic Humboldt bus crash it’s been 8 months-we won’t forget no matter how long you try to hide them. Considering who wrote this article my comments will probably never make it here

  6. I am of the understanding that most of the accidents in Ontario are caused by Punjab drivers. I work in Western Canada and they are taking over the Trucking industry here also. I get really annoyed when I am driving along and have to slow down to 70 KPH because the truck in front of me is doing this. There is a very light dusting of snow on the road and these Idiots are white knuckle driving because they are scared to death. On the Coke they are sitting at the bottom of the smasher and all the wheels are smoking and they are standing outside with a fire extinguisher and the guys at the Hope Scales are sitting and waiting for them. They are taking over the Industry at Trimac and Seaboard Transport. They will work for basically nothing and there is no chance of a rate increase because, well if you won’t do it I will get these guys to do it for basically nothing.

  7. I am truck driver 10 wheels ,12 wheels ,22wheels .I want a job in your company .pls sir don’t underestimate me .I will best hard work.

  8. If I start a Canadian Truck Driver group…..I will be called racist and discrimination will be screamed out loud…..thank you so much for migrating here and like you said “taking over”….I really appreciate putting years behind the wheel for nothing!

  9. As a firefighter I can honestly say that the majority of the accidents that we go to that involve a semi, there will be an Indian driving and doing something wrong.

  10. It’s the need for GREED that leaves most indian drivers in the ditch, most of you drive too fast for winter conditions and end up killing yourselves or other innocent people on the roads.

    You don’t dominate anything, and write-ups like this are why you are stereotyped.

    Stop bragging about the money you make and start training your drivers to obey the rules and use speed limiters like you are supposed to.

    In the trucking industry, indians are the most made fun of because of your poor track record for safety.

    Maybe it’s time you stop looking at it like it’s a cash cow and start respecting the industry.

  11. That’s exactly why there has been such a increase in accidents. Move freight as cheap as possible. Good drivers aren’t cheap and cheap drivers aren’t good. Until the government does something about this, the deaths on our hwys will continue to increase.

  12. As a driver of 28 years we wonder why are highways the way they are these. It’s because of these ragheads and pakis that so many rules and regulations have been brought in that makes it so that nobody wants to drive anymore. It’s too bad our government can admit it. Because that wouldn’t be politically correct and they would look like the racist even though it’s the truth. And nobody has the balls to say it. They’re always on their phones and they are a menace on our highways

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