At least 43 garment workers were injured – four critically – on Wednesday in the second serious road accident involving workers from the same factory in Svay Rieng province in as many days.
The crash occurred in Svay Rieng town’s Prey Chhlak commune when a truck carrying chickens is alleged to have overtaken carelessly and smashed head-on into a minivan taking You Li International Factory employees to work on Wednesday morning.
The four critically injured were sent to Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital, while the others were being treated at Svay Rieng Referral Hospital.
The driver of the minivan, which was knocked onto its roof with the force of the impact, suffered a broken bone in his right thigh. The driver of the truck fled the scene.
Police have launched a manhunt for the truck driver, Provincial Department of Labour and Vocational training director Has Bunthy told The Post.
And in an immediate response, Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) programme coordinator Khun Tharo said the incident showed that workers were becoming victims of the government’s failure to properly address worker transportation, with most of the vehicles used not roadworthy or comfortable.
On Tuesday, two You Li International Factory garment workers were killed and 33 injured in a road accident in Svay Rieng province’s Svay Teap district.
Pum Sokunthy, a union representative at the You Li International Factory, said the injured worked at Branch 2 of the factory in Svay Rieng town – the same place where employees involved in Tuesday’s accident worked at.
“I cannot believe that serious road accidents involving You Li International Factory workers have happened two days in a row. We are considering taking the seriously injured to be treated in Vietnam,” Sokunthy said.
Bunthy said that while 15 workers had been seriously injured and 18 hurt, no one had died. Of the 43 garment workers involved in the accident, 10 were male, he said.
Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Heang Sotheayut said on Wednesday that officials were paying greater attention to the safety of workers while they were being ferried to the factories and back.
“People who do not hold a licence are not allowed to drive vehicles, while those who do must respect the Road Traffic Law. This applies not only to those transporting garment workers but all drivers.
“Measures must be taken. That’s why we are running education campaigns, publicising the Law on Road Traffic and making the drivers of worker transport vehicles take a driving test as directed by their factories,” he stressed.
Tharo said a working group was visiting the injured at the hospital. A pregnant woman, he said, had broken both arms and legs in the crash.
He said many vehicles had been modified to extend their length to pack in more workers and that between 25 and 40 workers could be carried in a single truck.
“The government and employers must ensure all vehicles are roadworthy, and drivers have licences and understand the Road Traffic Law,” Tharo said.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said all the injured had received assistance and care from the authorities via the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
“The Ministry of Public Works and Transport will continue to address the difficulties of the workers and their families using the NSSF programme,” the ministry said.
Svay Rieng provincial police chief Koeng Khorn declined to comment to The Post on Wednesday.