Man Killed, 12 Injured in Latest Garment Worker Truck Crash

A garment worker was killed and a dozen more were injured when the truck they were traveling in overturned in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on Saturday afternoon in the latest case of a serious traffic accident involving factory workers, who are crammed into truck beds by the dozens and transported to and from factories around the country.

Keo Channoeun, 18, died at the scene and another four workers were rushed to hospitals after the truck flipped over due to what police suspect was a reckless and drunk driver who attempted to flee the scene after the accident, according to Kambol commune police chief Phann Phoeun.

“Witnesses saw a truck full of workers in the back drifting left and right at a high speed. The truck then lost control and overturned with dozens of workers thrown 3 to 4 meters from the truck,” said Mr. Phoeun, adding that local residents attacked the driver as he attempted to flee prior to being arrested.

The accident, which involved workers en route from the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone to Ponhea Leu district in Kandal, is the latest in a recent spate of accidents in which trucks overflowing with unprotected workers have turned over.

Jill Tucker, the chief technical adviser for Better Factories Cambodia, a program run by the International Labor Organization, said that factories organizing safer buses for workers rather than providing cash as a transportation allowance could help reduce risks.

“Unfortunately garment workers who travel usually do so in these big trucks and although traffic accidents are a problem generally in Cambodia, they do seem to affect garment workers disproportionally,” Ms. Tucker said.

“Some factories have arranged their own buses and I haven’t heard of these kind of accidents on them. It’s a good solution and it’s not necessarily any more expensive than providing transportation allowance,” she added.

Sam Onn, an information officer for the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), said that the organization is paying for the workers’ hospital treatment and that a committee has been set up to try and prevent similar accidents.

“We educate drivers to drive without drinking alcohol. Yesterday the driver was drunk so he became careless and accidently crashed. This is not the mistake of my organization but the mistake of the driver,” Mr. Onn said.

Despite the crash happening outside of the factory, it is still covered by NSSF due to being part of the work commute, he added.

At least 86 garment workers were injured in February when their 3-ton truck overturned in Svay Rieng and 45 were injured last month after smashing into a tree in Kompong Cham.

The 30-year-old driver, who has not been named by police, was being questioned at the municipal traffic police station Sunday, according to Mr. Phoeun.

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