The new face of California truckers is now a Sikh face after’ The Economist’ reported that Sikhs control about 40% of the trucking industry of California.
The Punjabi community also dominates the Canadian trucking industry where industry experts estimate that about 60% of the Canadian trucking industry is controlled by people of Punjabis origin.
Nachattar Singh Chohan is the founder and president of the Indian Trucking Association of Canada who told the TOI:
“We Punjabis control more than 60% 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.
“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.
He further stated, “Punjabi immigrants come to Canada to make money and to make it fast. But the only options available before them are in factories where they can’t make more than $400 to $500 week.However, as a trucker driver, they can easily make $4,000 to $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 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 typ ical 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 a delivery van, but then asked me buy a bigger van and a bigger truck. When I went to buy the truck, the dealer charged $25,000 for a vehicle he had bought for $10,000 from a transport company. I happened to meet the seller, who offered to sell second-hand trucks directly to me at a much cheaper rate. That’s how I started in trucking. First, I bought four trucks from him and then kept adding.”
“The growth of the trucking industry around the Punjabi community has also fostered a sense of identity and togetherness among our people,” says Chohan who for years sponsored Canada’s hugely successful TV programme called Insight Into Sikhism.