Thursday, March 21, 2019 | ePaper

Level crossing, a death trap

675 accidents every year claimed lives above 6500 people in 18 years

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Md Joynal Abedin Khan :
Hundreds of people reportedly lost their lives while crossing the level crossings through out the country in last 18 years.
The dilapidated condition of 2,835-km railway network and 1,761 unauthorised level crossings are mainly responsible for the rising of the number of death, said Bangladesh Railway (BR) sources.
Even walking by the railway trucks with earphones and giving jumps in front of the running trains to commit suicide might be considered as another reason of increasing deaths, they said.
In the latest, at least three passengers died and another nine were injured when a train rammed into a human haler at the Sonapur  level crossing near the Jamalpur Railway Station in Rajbari upazila on Friday afternoon, said AKM Azmal Huda, Chief of local police station.    The dead were identified as Imran Sarder, 20, Sarwar Sheikh, 22, and Shakil Sheikh, 22, in habitants of Baliakandi Upazila of the district .
Bangladesh Railways (BR) statistics shows, 4,051 accidents claimed 172 lives, injuring 1,208 persons from July 2001 to June 2007 with an average of 675 accidents per year.
Another BR sources said, over 6,500 people died under the trains in last 18 years.
According to BR, there are 2,541 railway level crossings across the country. Of them, 780 have been approved by the authorities concerned and the remaining 1,761 are illegal.
There are guards at 242 approved level crossings, but 2,299 others are either unmanned or without barriers, it said.
According to traffic safety research and monitoring organisations, 50 per cent of the train accidents and deaths at level crossings happen due to the negligence of the jay-walking pedestrians as they defy traffic signals.
Belayet Hossain, Director General of Bangladesh Railway, has recently told the media, "Too much traffic, reckless driving, and non-compliance with traffic rules are the main reasons of rising accidents."
He said that they warned pedestrians and drivers to follow traffic rules at level crossings, but nobody pays any heed.
Seeking anonymity, a former director general (DG) of Bangladesh Railway (BR), said, local and public representatives set up many level crossings  without taking any approval from the railway administration.
"Over 85 per cent level crossings are now in unsafe condition which are quite risky," he said.

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