Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Commute deadly: gov’t



Commute deadly: gov’t

Garment workers climb onto a transport truck in Phnom Penh
Garment workers climb onto a transport truck in Phnom Penh last year. More than 4,000 garment workers were injured in 2014 while travelling to and from work, according to a government report. Hong Menea

Commute deadly: gov’t

Garment workers continue to die in traffic accidents on their way to and from the factory, a new report highlighting the deadly commute in Cambodia’s largest industry shows.

In the report, titled The Dangerous Journey of Garment Workers in 2014, the Ministry of Labour’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF) says 73 people died in crashes last year, a slight rise from 67 in 2013. Preliminary government statistics indicate that at least 2,148 people died in traffic accidents overall last year in Cambodia.

While there were slightly fewer overall accidents in the garment industry, the number of injuries actually increased, from 4,703 in 2013 to 4,737 a year later.

Although trucks with standing-room only are often blamed for the spate of commuter deaths in the garment industry, the overwhelming majority of accidents involving workers last year – 2,669 – involved motorbikes, according to the report.

However, with 348 cases, trucks were still listed as the second-most dangerous form of transportation, while tuk-tuks accounted for 52 accidents. In 31 cases, the report said, “other” means of transport were to blame.

Cheav Bun Rith, head of the policy office at the NSSF, blamed the accidents on reckless driving and the fact that many factory-employed drivers don’t have a licence.

“We don’t know why they do not come to go for [the licence] exam, so we have a project with the Ministry of Public Works [and Transport] and the Ministry of Interior to teach the Traffic Law, driving techniques and to have exams at the garment factory directly,” he said.

There are going to be a lot of exams.

According to the report, in 2014, only 786 factory drivers had licences out of a total of 1,600, coming out to a little less than 50 per cent.

One driver, Chan Sanvan, said he hasn’t gotten around to taking the test, but it’s something he intends to do.

“I do not have a driving licence yet, because there has been no time go to take the exam to get it, but I will try,” he said.

Ear Chariya, an independent road safety consultant, slammed garment factory trucks, the mode of transport that has become the most visible in the industry.

“Putting the worker in the vehicle is like putting an animal on the truck,” he said. “They don’t have seats, they don’t have safety protection, and most of the vehicles are not really safe . . . most are old.”

Chariya encouraged factories or the government to invest in better transportation.

“If they can change to a good vehicle like a bus, it would be much safer for them. But in order to change that, if there’s no support from the factory or the government, it’s not possible. They have to pay more.”

But for now, it seems officials tasked with combating the problem are training their efforts on the drivers, not their vehicles.

Bopha Phany, deputy director of the Department of Public Works and Transport, appealed to drivers to focus on safety first, because, “as you know, the factory truck loads many garment workers in the vehicle”.

Accidents in which passengers are thrown from the cabs of trucks are hardly confined to the garment industry, as one such incident in Battambang province illustrated yesterday.

Police say that a stray power wire was slung across the road, causing several people to fall out of a Nissan pick-up truck travelling to Sampov Loun district. There were no deaths, but one person was seriously injured and sent to Battambang town for treatment.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JOE FREEMAN

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Tottenham Hotspur to wear ISF Cambodia logo on jerseys in match against Sheffield United

    Last year, the Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) – an NGO providing education to underprivileged children in Cambodia – made global headlines with its “socially distanced” football initiative. This year, a world-class football club – Tottenham Hotspur FC – will wear special edition jerseys to show their support for ISF

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American