Bangladesh Railway has recently proposed to construct 14 overpasses and underpasses at authorised level crossings on Joydebpur-Dhaka-Narayanganj section for reducing traffic congestion and accidents.
Safety experts, however, observe that safety measures should be strengthened at the unauthorised level crossings on the section.
Everyday a huge number of commuters from areas surrounding Dhaka use this section both by roads and railways for work and other purposes.
Huge traffic congestion is a common phenomenon on this section, especially at Gazipur intersection, Dhaka Bypass road, Gendaria, Mugdapara and Askona.
The distance between Joydebpur and Narayanganj is 50km, one of the busiest and popular sections in the country, on which there are 85 level crossings — 42 authorised and 43 unauthorised.
Daily 16 pairs of commuter trains run between Dhaka and Narayanganj and over 20 commuter trains between Dhaka and Joydebpur routes, as per railway officials.
Presence of too many level crossings is a major reason for severe traffic congestions, slow speed of trains and increasing number of fatal accidents at the level crossings in Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayanaganj metropolitan cities.
Against this backdrop, railway in December 2017 started a feasibility study for construction of overpass/underpass in Narayanganj-Joydebpur section of Bangladesh Railway at a cost of Tk 2.49 crore.
The railway submitted the final report to the railways ministry in September 2018, proposing seven overpasses at Narayanganj 2 rail gate, TT Para/ Mugdapara, Azampur, Kotbari, Ismail Hossain Road, Dhaka City Bypass (Dhamrai) and Joydebpur station rail gate level crossings and seven underpasses at Gendaria New Road, Tejgaon, Mohakhali, Sainik Club, Joar Sahara, Khilkhet and Ashkona level crossings.
At other authorised level crossings, the railway proposed to build walls and put up billboards to make people aware about use of level crossings.
Railways ministry secretary Md Mofazzal Hossain told New Age that Roads and Highways Department, Local Government Engineering Division, city corporations and other local government authorities were responsible for building these infrastructures.
‘We will request the relevant authorities for building these structures through the cabinet or the prime minister’s office soon,’ he added.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s Accident Research Institute assistant professor Kazi Md Shifun Newaz said that automatic bell system or bar system should be set up at unauthorised level crossings.
He also said two or three unauthorised level crossings should be merging into one crossing.
An ARI research, based on reports published in national dailies, shows that in 2018 a total of 242 people were killed and 227 injured in 232 level crossing accidents in the country.
According to BR, 273 people were killed in 2015 and 213 people between January and October in 2016 only on Narayanganj-Dhaka-Joydebpur section.
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