PM prioritising railway
That Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has turned her attention to modernising the railway by 2015 strikes a responsive chord in us. Because this important state-run mass mode of transportation is in an ailing, derelict state. The impelling demand is now for expanding domestic and regional reaches of the railway.
As a bulk carrier of passengers and cargo railway is second to none. But road transportation received massive doses of investment at the cost of railway. Resultantly, we are left with an extremely lopsided infrastructure. To correct this imbalance, it appears, the government is moving in a big way to upgrade the railway service.
127 projects with a total allocation of Tk 43,500 crore have been envisaged in the sixth five-year plan (2011 to 2015). Some 689km-long railway tracks, 130 locomotives, 539 passenger coaches and 500 wagons will be added.
Of immediate necessity, however, is the task of rehabilitating a broken down railway system. The flawed signaling, unguarded railway crossings need attention. Year 2012 is targeted for completion of the rehabilitation work. The timetable should be maintained to avoid intruding into other components with cost overruns.
Mismanagement and lack of maintenance have been the railway's Achilles' heel. Grabbing and illegal occupation of railway land and plundering of the rolling stocks and fixed assts have divested the railway of the bare minimum inventory to run on an even keel. Add to these, the utter disregard for passenger convenience and comfort. No sooner had shiny coaches and engines been introduced, people scrambled to stripe away the embellishment into a burrowed frame.
Our immediate concern is three-fold: one, overhaul the railway administration; two, have enough trained personnel and, above all, ensure optimal utilisation of the allocations under the watchful eye of a high powered authority.