Nothing comes to help
Golam Mostafa Jibon: Bangladesh railway has been suffering from manifold problems for long due to lack of planned and long-lastingdevelopment by the authorities concerned. As a result, most of the rail lines and level crossings in the country have turned into death trap causing frequent accidents.
In the last one decade, development projects worth over Tk 163,000 crore was taken up by the railway. But, no large-scale project has been implemented to prevent accidents at railway level crossings. That is why, accident is occurring one after another before the removing of shock of an accident.
Authorities concerned are avoiding their responsibility by hanging a small warning notice on the unprotected rail crossing area. But, they never think it is not only level crossing but also death trap.
According to the sources, train accidents are happening frequently on dilapidated railways claiming many lives. The unprotected level crossings of the railway have turned into death trap. Though, the government claimed that huge development has brought to the railway, but, no notable work is visible that growing agitation among the civil society members.
There are 2,856 level crossings across the country. Of them, 1,361 have no approval, while 632 out of 1496 legal level crossings have no gateman or security guard.
In the last 3 years, over 1,000 people died and 1,500 people were injured and become disabled. About 89 percent of all fatalities in rail accidents are caused by unprotected level crossings. About 84 percent of railway level crossings (legal-illegal) are unprotected. Besides, the lives of ordinary people are often lost in accidents in these level crossings.
Experts said, investigation committee is formed by beating drums, while any accident took place. In most cases, the investigation report and recommendations do not see the light of day.
Most of the railways are many years old due to lack of necessary maintenance and repairs. In other words, derailment of trains is often happening due to dilapidation due to lack of reforms. In addition, unauthorized and unplanned
connecting roads, unsafe level crossings of railways on top of them have been causing train accidents for years. But there is no effective remedy.
A life is not the only life of a human being. Many more people’s lives are involved with this. When one life is separated then the pain comes also down in the livesof others. People are constantly losing their lives in road and rail accidents. One after another family is ruining. Numerous families are losing guardians. Train accidents are also happening due to carelessness and unawareness. Sometimes with buses, sometimes with microbuses and sometimes with other vehicles are being collided. However, making these crossings safe is not a priority of the authorities.
Sources said, at least 15 incidents of derailment were taken place in the Akhaura-Sylhet section of the Dhaka-Sylhet-Chattogram railway in the last six months.
A man named Mohammad Yusuf, 33, died, when he was hit by a train in Khilgaon area of the capital recently. Many people are dying at the railway crossing in the Khilgaon rail crossing area like the unfortunate Yusuf who died after being cut by a train. A wholesale vegetable market has been set up along the railway line near Khilkhet of the capital.
Retailers are buying vegetables and taking those goods to different places by van from the market. While train comes, many of them cross the line in a hurry. The same picture can be seen around Shyawrabazar, Ashkona, Maghbazar, FDC junction, Tejgaon, Mohakhali, Banani rail crossings of the capital. Just before the train arrived, the lineman barricaded both sides of the road. But many pedestrians and cyclists enter through the bottom of the barricades or a little farther away with iron bars. Although, the train moved closer, they passed unmolested. In the area of Shawra Rail Crossing, the traffic gatemen on duty sounded the warning siren, but no one pay heeds to this.
According to railway sources, 23 of the 57 level crossings on the 35-kilometer railway line, including the capital, are unprotected and unauthorized. None of these has Gateman and Signal Bar. The railway from Kamalapur to Tongi has been identified as highly risky. Kuril is another risky spot. People cross the way taking life risk.
Among the reasons for railway accidents are walking on the railway line while talking on mobile phone or listening music with headphones in the ears. The train’s whistle could not be heard, while the train was moving through the densely populated area. Not seeing the train on the winding road. Traveling on the roof of train is another cause of accident and death.
According to railway sources, in the last one decade, about 8,500 accidents including big and small were taken place. After these accidents, 8,000 investigation committees have been formed. Some of the committees have submitted their reports. But no effective action was taken as per the recommendations of 90 percent of the reports. The reason given by the railway authorities is that it is almost impossible to take action on the basis of investigation. Why not all those, who are at the root of the incident, are either party influential in local politics or are in important positions of government. Although, the investigation report has been submitted for this, the implementation report cannot see the light of day. Railway chaos, passenger suffering or accidents have not diminished, but the allegations are endless. Rail accidents are on the rise. There is no way the death march is going to be stopped.
There are 2,955 kilometers of railways in the country. The road has gone somewhere along this railway line. This junction of rail and road is called level crossing. There are more or less 2,500 level crossings in the country. These are classified as legal, which have guard (manned) and illegal, which have no guard (unmanned). Crossings with guards have iron barriers. The guard received a signal from the train and lowered the barrier to control the movement of other vehicles. As a result, if the guard does not make a mistake, there is no chance of the train colliding with the vehicle. There are very few accidents at rail crossings with guards and obstructions. Crossings without guards are unprotected.
A professor in the civil engineering department of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) said that having no level crossing without obstructions or guards meant that lives would be lost here. Knowing this, if someone does not take security measures, then it must be said that people do not have a headache in death. Both roads and railways are built for the people and with their money. As a result, they deserve protection.
Nurul Islam Sujon, Railway Minister said, “We are trying to improve the railways as it is safe and comfortable for travelling. Development works in the sector is going on, but it needs few more time to be visible.”
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