Every year fatal accidents are happening at level crossings all over the country. We feel highly concerned when authorities at the railway ministry state that there are 1,149 ‘unauthorised’ level crossings in the country without gatemen. Recently in the port city, a collision between a train, bus and auto-rickshaw killed several people including a traffic police at a level-crossing. Such fatalities are avoidable by responsible manning of level crossings or having overpasses or underpasses for trains or motor vehicles to run unhindered in city areas, a permanent safe way followed by many countries of the world.
The Bangladesh Railway is a national institution which crossed 159 years, being established by the British on November 15, 1862. It is a mass public transportation system owned by the government. So, it should not engage in unauthorised acts anywhere in the country, with unmanned level crossings which put the lives of innocent people at risk.
The railway was once famous for its on-board services which made travelling by train a great pleasure, as it was more comfortable than the journeys on rickety roads in the olden days. Many of us can still recall writing school essays on ‘A journey by train’. But sadly, the heyday of the railway became a thing of the past with better road networks all across the country which heralded the start of intercity and inter district bus services for convenience of the people.
Not changing with the times has been the greatest drawback of the Bangladesh Railways which led to its decline. The railway is a glaring example of neglect turning a long-standing national institution into a decrepit white elephant. But it should not have been so. Firstly, there should not be any unmanned rail crossings in the country endangering the lives of the people. Most countries of the world have modified level crossings within their cities by overpasses or underpasses to remove the risks involved in having railway lines passing through city areas.
We should consider doing likewise too, to make travelling safer in the country. Till then, the railway must take responsibility for manning all the level crossings in the country for the safety of the people. Pedestrians and drivers of motor vehicles should also check twice before passing through a level crossing.