WINNIPEG, Man. – Dave Tyrchniewicz, president of Turk Enterprises, is calling out truck stops that have chosen to keep their revenue streams open while closing essential services to drivers.
With carriers scrambling to get essential Covid-19 relief items to communities across Canada, drivers have been faced with mounting closures of washrooms and showers, as well as a lack of access to food and hygiene products, all necessary to keep them healthy and safe while on the road.
Tyrchniewicz told Today’s Trucking that though he completely understands that truck stops must take precautions to eliminate the spread of the coronavirus, he is seeing a rather worrisome trend.
“I completely understand if a truck stop is forced to close, decides to close for safety reasons, or is forced to close restaurants due to local or provincial regulations,” said Tyrchniewicz. “It is quite another matter when a facility is open for business and decides to close washrooms or shower facilities to truck drivers, but wants to continue selling products to the same people who they are denying basic personal hygiene.”
Turk Enterprises is one of many carriers that has been racking up the mileage during the Covid-19 crisis. A hauler of perishable food items, Tyrchniewicz said the last few weeks have been “frantic” for all carriers hauling such items, and there are constantly new hurdles to clear to keep pace.
“The rules and procedures have been changing by the minute in an effort to keep everyone safe,” he said, “but also in keeping the supply chain moving so the shelves can remain stocked.”
Despite all the policy and rule changes, the biggest challenge Turk Enterprises has encountered is keeping its drivers informed and safe while on the front lines.
“Misinformation has been one of the biggest issues we face,” said Tyrchniewicz. “Just because you read something on Facebook doesn’t make it true; that isn’t the best platform for receiving your facts from.”
Shippers and receivers also play a role when it comes to driver treatment during the Covid-19 crisis. Tyrchniewicz claims a handful of his drivers have been treated unfairly and “quite inhumanely” by some shippers and receivers, and that has to stop.
“Most have changed their minds after it has been brought to their attention the errors in their policies and procedures,” said Tyrchniewicz. “We all want to remain as safe as possible, but it doesn’t give anyone the right to disrespect our drivers and deny them of basic human rights.”
Tyrchniewicz said they are trying to keep their drivers as up-to-date as possible on what is open and what kind of services are available to them at various locations.
Further west, the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) has developed a Covid-19 rest area database to help carriers and drivers learn just that.
The database is an effort to help serve commercial drivers moving goods across Alberta and the country, and compiles rest area locations, amenities, and hotels open to truck drivers in need of a hot shower and bed.
Broken down into north, central, and Southern Alberta regions, the database also includes some options from Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Moving forward, Tyrchniewicz would like to see rest areas provide basic services to drivers if they are going to continue selling items and making money, and there are ways truck stops can do this without putting others in danger.
“Here at our terminal, we have hired an extra person strictly to disinfect and clean,” he said. “If I can do that, surely national truck stop chains and shipper and receivers can as well.”
To view the AMTA’s Covid-19 rest area database, visit https://amta.ca/news-events/covid-19-resources/rest-area-info-for-drivers.
The Manitoba Trucking Association has also accumulated a database of services for truck drivers, and that can be found here: https://www.trucking.mb.ca/files/2020/Coronavirus/MemberPromos/Alternate_Resources_MB.pdf.
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