Better transport sought for workers

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The government and civil society organisations are finding ways to improve the means of transport for garment and footwear workers to reduce accidents. Heng Chivoan

The government and civil society organisations are finding ways to improve the means of transport for garment and footwear workers to reduce accidents involving them while commuting to and from work.

During a workshop held under the theme “Improving commuting safety for garment and footwear workers” on Monday, officials said road accidents caused by improper means of transport had increased considerably.

Im Piseth, the Project Manager of AIP Foundation, said the institution had been working to improve road safety for workers.

He said AIP Foundation is working with the Road Safety Committee for Workers to push worker transporters to use passenger vehicles instead of commercial trucks.

“Drivers have been urged to use buses or passenger vans to transport workers to ensure better safety for them,” he said.

Pen Noreak Vuth, the deputy director of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) under the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said road accidents had been a cause of concern for the government.

He said traffic accidents were hidden killers and a burden on the national economy.

“The government encouraged all institutions to work together to change their habits and use proper commuting vehicles. Specialist working groups are also working to publicise the law and further educate the drivers,” he said.

Eliot Tang, the general manager of Carlington Factory in Kampong Cham province, said over the years, drivers at his factory had undergone training on safe driving and workers’ safety. He said they had exercised greater caution when parking, driving and modifying their trucks.

The drivers, he said, had been using buses that are up to standard to transport workers and had also been educated about the law and ethics by specialists from AIP Foundation.

“Before we didn’t have this standard, but now we have made a lot of changes to improve traffic safety for our workers,” Tang said.

Association of Transportation Workers and Informal Employment president Neak Heng said while owners of vehicles for workers are required to use buses, most of them could not afford to do so.

He said they generally charged only between $5 and $15 a month from workers and thus needed more time to save money to buy new vehicles.

“The ongoing challenges for worker truck drivers multiply. They can’t afford to buy new ones immediately. They can only do it in phases unless the government helps by offering them loans at low interest.

“In some cases, buses cannot be used to transport workers because roads in the countryside are pretty narrow and can get them stuck in the mud. As they get too little money from each worker, their only option is to put many workers in one modified truck.

“The fees they get from workers are not even enough for petrol, engine oil and food,” he said.

Luy Chhin, the deputy director of traffic police and public order under the National Police, said the use of modified trucks to transport workers is illegal. He said such modified trucks had not undergone technical inspection.

“Drivers are required to use their own vehicles to transport workers if they can afford them. Otherwise, they must put enough seats for workers in their vehicles. That can help prevent traffic accidents,” he said.

According to an NSSF report released in July, there were 766 cases of traffic accidents in the first six months of this year, killing 24 people and severely injuring 159.