Truck drivers queued up for hours on Wednesday while trying to get into Canada via the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia, Ont. after protesters blocked the main Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ont.
The Canada Border Services Agency website showed four-and-half hour delays at Sarnia crossing into Canada while the Ambassador Bridge was shut both ways.
Protesters have been restricting traffic at border crossings in Ontario and Alberta and are aligned with a standoff in Ottawa, calling for an end to a vaccine mandate that applies to cross-border truck drivers, along with an array of other demands largely linked to public health restrictions.
Ishnet Singh, an owner-operator from Montreal, Que., who runs in a team with his son, was stuck for more than eight hours on the U.S. side at the Sarnia crossing.
He pulled up behind trucks that were lined up for many kilometers at the border at about 6 a.m. Wednesday. The crawl to the border took hours and he crossed around 3 p.m. He could not take a break in the stop-and-go traffic and was not able to use a washroom.
“I understand the protesters want to protest about their freedom, but why bother us. Why are you making it hard for us to work? We are fully vaccinated; we are trying to take care of our families. I could have been with my family right now,” he said.
Singh said his son could not sleep properly and would still have to take over the driving as he has run out of hours on his clock.
The team has had to reschedule their outgoing trip due to the delay. “We also are unsure how long it will take for us to head back into the U.S. on our next trip. My friend waited in line for six hours yesterday,” Singh said. “Essentially we have lost a shift where we drive about 600 miles.”
Running out of hours
Singh said the effect of a delay is bad for a team, but worse for single drivers. He said single drivers who were stuck along with him will have find a place as soon as they cross the border as their hours run out. “And there aren’t places close to the border to park a big rig. So many guys were stuck, where are they going to sleep?” he asked.
The blockade in Windsor has entered the third day and truckers hauling goods across the border were caught unawares on Monday.
An owner-operator who did not want to be identified said he spent nine hours – from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the Ambassador Bridge on Monday. He said the vibrations of multiple commercial big rigs on the span were unnerving after being parked for hours.
After he finally entered Canada, he was almost out of hours. “Luckily, my company has a yard close to Windsor, so I spent the night parked there.” He drove home Tuesday morning and headed out again Wednesday, having lost a day’s worth of work.