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Safe commutes for workers discussed

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Garment workers returning home on National Road 5 in 2019. Hong Menea

Safe commutes for workers discussed

Representatives of the government and civil society organisations on December 15 jointly held a forum on “Improving Road Safety for Workers in Cambodia” to discuss strategies for reducing traffic accidents.

The forum was held to present information and evidence while making recommendations for improving traffic safety for workers through media campaigns that can provide safety information to workers.

Min Manavy, secretary of state for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and secretary-general of the National Road Safety Committee, said that although the government has set out strategies to reduce traffic accidents, this issue remains an ongoing concern.

“Today’s forum is to strengthen relationships and continue to enhance cooperation and increase joint activities between stakeholders on the issue of safe commute to work by workers in the garment and footwear sector with discussions and exchanges of ideas,” she said.

Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP) director Kim Panha said that through previous studies, they have determined that one of the big challenges with worker safety during their commutes is a lack of safety knowledge and the use of transport vehicles that are unsafe and lack basic equipment like seatbelts.

He said he is studying these issues along with other relevant institutions and have implemented a project to improve traffic safety for workers that lasted for three years starting in December 2019 through November 2022.

“Our activities focused on 30 target factories in Phnom Penh and some provinces. We developed research and disseminated it while promoting cooperation with relevant partners, including meeting directly with the workers and administrators of our target factories,” he said.

He said the project’s research concluded that an effective approach will be to work directly with the target factories to promote the replacement of the trucks that transport the workers currently with vehicles that meet the safety specifications necessary to protect the occupants as well as upgrading some infrastructure.

Meas Sophorn, spokesperson at the Ministry of Information, said the media will play an important role in raising awareness on this issue.

“We see that the information sector has played a role in raising public awareness in almost all areas of concern including improving traffic safety for people in general and factory workers in particular,” he said.

Nak Heng, president of the Association of Transport and Informal Work, said workers still have traffic accidents with so many deaths and serious injuries because the trucks carrying them have been improperly converted to that purpose and are unsafe.

“The biggest problem is the conversion of trucks transporting goods into vehicles for transporting workers. Most truck owners borrow money from banks to buy them and then modify them to transport workers and this practice is so risky,” he said.

According to a study by the AIP, in 2020 there were 2,206 road accidents involving factory workers, which was equivalent to 183 accidents per month that resulted in 30 workers killed and 467 seriously injured.

“Some studies show that 30 per cent of the vehicles used to transport workers are unregistered and 73 per cent of the drivers surveyed said their vehicles transported workers while filled to twice its actual capacity,” the report said.

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