Wednesday, 10 August, 2022

Unchecked rail crossing a death trap

Death of 11 youths in a train-microbus collision at a level crossing in Mirsharai Upazila of Chattogram is a piece of news that shocked the nation. We express deep condolence to the victims’ family members and pray for the eternal salvation of the departed souls. At the same time, we want to have a look at the tragic incident that raises many questions in the minds of curious and conscious citizens.

As the reason for the tragic accident, many issues have come to light but the most important one is the absence or the negligence of a gateman who is not a permanent employee of Bangladesh Railway but discharging duty after being appointed temporarily. The gateman was reportedly not present at the crossing at the time of accident. However, no matter whether he was present or not or the microbus driver came to the line disobeying his order (as claimed by local people or railway officials), it is sheer negligence of the Bangladesh Railway authorities in maintaining an important railway crossing in this way.

Losing lives in accidents has turned out to be a never-ending story that seems to have no coma, no semicolon, let alone a full stop. While roads and private transport, especially private buses and other modes of transportation, were blamed earlier most for accidents, in recent years comparatively safer mode of public transportation, the railway, has appeared to join the race. At present Bangladesh is one of the top-ranked countries that face rail accidents regularly with a very high trend of train accidents per million train kilometres, a safety index globally.

Unmanned level crossings, poor condition of tracks and road users’ tendency of violating traffic rules at level crossings contribute to train accidents mostly. But the most vital factor is the carelessness of railway employees and officials. Allegations are there that to keep themselves busy in other activities many employees appointed for technical support hire ordinary people to perform the duties that required deep practical knowledge.

For years passengers’ suffering has been intolerable because of the anarchism of the private transport sector. The railway is the only hope for them. But train journey is no longer safe in the country. However, a good railway service is a must to help passengers feel relieved and to control the audacity of private transport. Therefore, there is no alternative to making the railway a safe and people-friendly mode of transportation.