With all the major highways from B.C.’s Interior to the Lower Mainland blocked by flooding and landslides, many truckers are finding their routes disrupted.
It’s left some drivers in limbo, waiting in the Interior to get back to the coast, while others are off work as they wait for their routes to reopen.
The spin-off effects mean the closures won’t just impact trucking businesses, they’ll also hurt businesses that can no longer get their goods to market.
Surrey-based driver Harman Singh was among those waiting at an unusually busy Sicamous truck stop on Wednesday.
Singh was trying to take a truck full of consumer goods from Ontario to the Lower Mainland, but the road closures had extended his trip indefinitely.
Wednesday was his eighth day living out of his truck.
“The situation is very bad,” Singh said.
Also waiting in Sicamous was driver Francois Lachaine. The highway closures meant, on Wednesday, he was already a day late delivering his cargo of frozen meat to Vancouver.
“Financially for the driver, it’s bad because we get paid by the mile so today…it’s like $150. That just covers the food,” said Lachaine.
Both drivers said there were some challenges finding food as they waited.
Lachaine said he was in a Golden, B.C., grocery store on Tuesday evening and found it was out of vegetables.
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The highway shutdown is also bad news for transport companies and their customers.
Clark Freightways in Vernon, B.C., said four local drivers that would normally be shuttling groceries, produce and other products between the Lower Mainland and the Interior were sitting idle.
“Everybody needs a paycheque. If drivers aren’t working, it’s tense, it’s tough,” Vernon Lead Hand for Clark Freightways Byron Fox said.
The president of another Vernon tucking company, Chambers Transportation Group, said the simultaneous closure of so many highways was something he’d never seen before.
The business mainly hauls products for industrial clients.
“It will be costly for our customers, who have to either stockpile products or curtail their operations…it’s not good for everybody,” said Chambers Transportation Group president Ryan Chambers.
The company is now looking at flying drivers from the Lower Mainland to the Interior to drive the routes that aren’t cut off.
Meanwhile, the province is trying to restore highways and said reopening Highway 3 to limited traffic is a priority.
“It will likely be restricted traffic. We want to get trucks queued up to where they need to be and we want emergency vehicles to have access,” said Transportation Minister Rob Fleming.
Until then, drivers don’t have many options.
“The situation is not good. We’re stuck here and we just have to wait. We have nothing to do, just wait and wait and wait,” said Singh.
None of the drivers or businesses Global News spoke to for this story were looking at routing their truck(s) through the United States to get to the Lower Mainland at this point.
Chambers said different requirements for drivers and vehicles in the two different countries can make rerouting through the United States logistically challenging and, in some cases, not possible for Canadian drivers and vehicles.
— with files from Klaudia Van Emmerik