We are deeply shocked at the deadly train accident that happened on November 12 in Brahmanbaria’s Kashba upazila which killed at least 16 people and injured a hundred others. The accident occurred when Chattogram-bound Udayan Express from Sylhet and Dhaka-bound Turna Nishita Express from Chattogram collided at Mondobhag Railway Station in Kashba around 3am.
Now what the government should do on a priority basis, apart from rescuing the passengers and treating the injured, is identify the exact reasons for the fatal accident. We have learnt that already three probe committees have been formed to investigate the incident—two by railways ministry and one by district administration. We hope that the committees will submit their reports as soon as possible. Primary investigations have found that it was the Turna Nishita Express’s loco master’s fault. After the crash, both the loco master of Turna Nishita Express and his assistant have been suspended. However, other factors that might have contributed to the accident should also be found out.
According to a report by Shipping and Communication Reporters Forum (SCRF), between January 1 and June 30 this year, there have been at least 202 rail accidents that claimed 209 lives. The SCRF has also identified five major reasons behind the rise in rail accidents—use of mobile phones by pedestrians while crossing rail lines, lack of pedestrians’ awareness, negligence of railway employees, poor maintenance of level crossings, and poor maintenance of rail lines and bridges. All these factors should be addressed by the railway authorities to curb future train accidents. Railway used to be the safest mode of public transport. But over the years, Bangladesh Railway has lost its reputation because of incompetence, mismanagement and corruption in the sector. And yesterday’s accident is just a manifestation of our weakened railway sector run by incompetent manpower. The government should take all the necessary measures to turn the railway into a safe mode of transport again.