LACK of people’s awareness and the poor maintenance of level crossings and railway bridges by the authorities concerned contributed to an increase in railway accidents, which claimed 209 lives in January–June, as a report prepared by the Shipping and Communications Reporters’ Forum says. The forum, as New Age reported on Saturday, said that they had prepared the report based on news published by 22 national daily newspapers, 10 regional newspapers and 8 online news portals and agencies. The report also says that 146 others were injured in 202 railway accidents in the period — 46 taking place in February and 29 taking place in June.
The reasons for the accidents are the use of mobiles by pedestrians while crossing railway, lack of awareness of pedestrians, negligence of railway employees and poor maintenance of level crossings, railway and railway bridges. At least 13 railway bridges with ‘dead stop’ signs are used along more than 179 kilometres of the Sylhet-Akhaura route. Eight of the signs are along an 18-kilometre stretch of railway from Sylhet to Mogla Bazar and five along 164 kilometres of railway from Mogla Bazar to Akhaura Bridge. The authorities issued the signs at railway bridges instructing trains to stop first before crossing it and then run at a speed of only five kilometres an hour to cross the bridges. But most of the trains do not follow the instruction. Faulty railway also causes derailment of coaches. According to the Bangladesh Railway Information Book 2013, at least 1,474 incidents of train derailment took place between July 2008 and June 2013. At least 140 people lost their lives because of such incidents that account for 91 per cent of train accidents. The railway officials blame such derailment and concomitant casualties on insufficient allocation for the rehabilitation of rickety railway and repairs of locomotives, coaches and wagons. The railway workshop at Saidpur and the locomotive factory at Parbatipur, which have to work with obsolete equipment and ever-shrinking work force, seem to substantiate such complaints. The incumbent Awami League promised in its election manifesto to make a difference, which unfortunately mostly remains on papers. Moreover, the mismanagement and irregularities, financial and otherwise, have dogged the Bangladesh Railway for years now.
The government must, it is expected in such a situation, come out of its apparent indifference to railway accidents with a comprehensive strategy and a multi-pronged approach to bring order in the railway transport system and thus make the train journey safe and sound for people at large.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial