One person was killed and dozens were left bloodied and unconscious in the capital at around 6am yesterday morning when a vehicle swerved into oncoming traffic and slammed into a truck full of garment workers head-on.
According to police, the passengers, employees at the Colombus Apparel and Will Best garment factories, were riding in a flat-bed truck on National Road 3 in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district at the time of the accident – yet another in a long string of single and multiple-vehicle crashes involving trucks dangerously overloaded with garment workers.
The truck’s driver died in hospital, police said, and all 50 of its passengers – more than double capacity – were also hospitalised. District police chief Mom Sovath said police were looking to arrest the surviving driver, who had escaped the scene.
One injured worker, Or Srey Neth, 39, said she was knocked out by the force of the crash.
“I don’t know what happened to me. When I opened my eyes, I saw many workers covered in blood, unconscious on the ground,” she said. “I think I have a valuable life; I was very scared by this accident because it was the first time for me.”
Srey Neth said factory officials had visited her in hospital, and she had been told they would pay for her treatment.
Free Trade Union (FTU) officer Soun Phally said that although the crash appeared to be the other driver’s fault, the garment workers’ truck was severely over-crowded and only had a maximum capacity of about 20.
Accidents involving trucks overcrowded with garment workers are incredibly common, according to the FTU. A 2012 report shows four people were killed and 354 injured in 11 separate traffic accidents involving trucks carrying garment workers last year.
FTU President Chea Mony said the trucks were the cheapest transportation option for garment workers.
“Workers know they face the risk of accidents every day, but their wages don’t match their living expenses, so they are forced to save money where they can,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]