A road safety training workshop being held from January 25-28 in Phnom Penh is seeking to raise awareness of the toll taken by traffic accidents every year and implement steps for their prevention.
Kim Pagna, director of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP Foundation) in Cambodia, explained that hundreds of factory workers were injured each year – and some killed – in accidents which occurred while they were travelling to or from their jobs. He noted that women are disproportionately affected.
Addressing trade union employees, Pagna said the number of garment and footwear workers who died in traffic accidents while travelling to or from work in 2019 was more than the combined number of deaths due to malaria and landmines.
“Each year, about 20 per cent of total traffic accident victims in Cambodia are workers in the process of commuting back and forth to work,” he said.
“Even though we may consider traffic accidents as a fierce, hidden killer which takes people’s lives, regardless of colour, age, status or role, we can still prevent and reduce this danger if we all work together,” Pagna added.
According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport statistics, last year a total of 698 traffic accidents involving trucks transporting labourers resulted in 15 deaths and 138 serious injuries.
Min Meanvy, public works ministry secretary of state and secretary-general of the National Road Safety Committee, said traffic accidents caused deaths and injuries every day, making it an issue more serious than Covid-19.
“Federal and trade union leaders have played an important role in disseminating the risks of unsafe road behaviour and protecting workers by seeking advocacy to develop and implement effective road safety policy at the industry level,” she said.
Pagna said the AIP Foundation will conduct a study in February assessing the viability of upgrading trucks used as worker transports.
“I continue to call on all truck drivers to learn how to drive well, hold proper driver’s licences, respect traffic signs, and refrain from driving too fast or drinking alcohol while driving,” she affirmed.
Pamela Wharton, deputy country programme director for the Solidarity Centre in Cambodia, said it was a worker’s right to travel safely back and forth from work.
“Raising awareness of this issue and highlighting safety improvements needed to prevent travel accidents are an important part of ensuring appropriate working conditions for factory workers in Cambodia,” she said.
On the last day of the workshop, participants will conduct on-site training about traffic issues in various factories.