Seventy-two garment workers were injured yesterday when the overloaded truck in which they were travelling overturned while passing a tuk-tuk near their factory in Chroy Changvar district.
About 80 workers, who live in Kandal province’s Muk Kampoul district, were making the hour-long journey to UDS Garment Co crammed in the back of an open truck when it overturned on National Road 6A, according to a Ministry of Labour release.
Forty-three of the workers were seriously injured, with injuries including broken bones, and 29 received minor injuries. Most were sent to Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital but others were treated at a local clinic. The National Social Security Fund said that it would cover their medical costs.
Los Sitha, police chief for Bak Kheng commune, where the accident occurred, said the driver was overtaking a tuk-tuk when he swerved to avoid a pedestrian, causing the truck to flip.
“The driver was driving fast, causing the truck to overturn, throwing the workers onto the road,” Sitha said. “The driver fled after the accident.”
Factory unionist Prum Dyna said the workers spend more than an hour commuting every day, and at times had no option but to squeeze into such trucks.
“Sometimes the truck has 80 workers. It is a lot, but they have no choice because they want to spend less on their travel,” said Dyna, a factory representative for the Free Trade Union.
Moeun Kim Srey, who sustained minor injuries, said she was shocked by the injuries of her co-workers, which she said included head injuries. “When the truck collapsed, my friend and I were thrown from the truck and I started bleeding,” Kim Srey said.
Siv Easan, a factory representative, said the company had repeatedly told the truck driver to transport no more than 50 workers at a time, but that he frequently allowed many more on board.
“The factory hired the truck driver to help the workers who stay far away get to work, and we had a limit of 50,” the representative said. “We will take action, but after this situation settles down.”
Yesterday’s crash was the latest in a recent uptick of such accidents. Earlier this year, five workers died and another 138 were injured in two separate accidents in Kampong Speu province.