Cement mixer causes deadly accident outside school

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A cement mixer truck on Wednesday hit six motorbikes and one tuk-tuk in front of Boeung Trabek high School in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Bassac commune. Supplied

A cement mixer truck on Wednesday hit six motorbikes and one tuk-tuk in front of Boeung Trabek high School in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Bassac commune, killing one teacher, seriously injuring another and leaving four other people injured.

Land traffic office deputy chief Pen Khun told The Post on Wednesday that the driver, who works for cement and building material company SCG, was immediately arrested following the accident.

He added Phnom Penh Municipal Court had prepared for a lawsuit.

Khun pointed out that a brake defect had caused the accident, saying: “According to the driver’s confession, the truck’s brakes did not work as it might have needed some air.”

Local media outlets, quoting witness accounts, reported that at 8am on Wednesday a cement truck was travelling at high speed, and when it arrived in front of Boeung Trabek High School, it rammed into six motorbikes and one tuk-tuk.

Not long afterwards, school principal Pheng Sovannara announced to the students and staff that one of their teachers, Sok Tel, had died in the accident.

As of the time of going to press, it remains unclear whether the killed teacher was on one of the motorbikes or the tuk-tuk at the time.

According to a 2013 Phnom Penh Municipal Hall ruling to prevent traffic congestion and accidents, all types of heavy goods vehicles are not permitted to enter the city between 5am and 9pm.

‘Fairness for both sides’

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Sar Thet told The Post that if authorities prevented the cement mixer from entering the city at the prohibited time, it would delay construction.

But he added that he does not support the reckless driver, who he said will likely face prison time.

“Other heavy goods vehicles, besides cement mixer trucks, we ban from the city. But it is not a 100 per cent ban because in some places, such as Chamkar Doung, they permit these vehicles to enter. How can we ban these vehicles when there are many factories they need to service? We need to think about fairness for both sides,” he said.

Sar Thet said that after yesterday’s incident, he and Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Khuong Sreng were considering ways they could increase safety while still allowing cement mixers into the city so as not to delay construction projects.

Kong Ratanak, Institute for Road Safety deputy director, said that though heavy trucks cannot be banned 100 per cent, authorities should still have measures in place to restrict them to avoid deadly incidents like this.

“Vehicle inspection is important and drivers need to know how to handle these large vehicles to avoid future incidents like this,” he said.