Take Nangalkot train accident as a warning about negligence of govt functionaries18 April 2023 Editorial Desk
There was no casualty, but about 50 people got injured. Sunday's train accident at the Hasanpur Railway Station of Cumilla's Nangalkot could have been very serious leaving the whole nation in a shock in terms of loss of life. When most countries of the world have installed almost foolproof safety to their railway system and running trains at 350 km per hour has become a normal thing in many places, thanks to the cutting-edge modern mechanical engineering and technology. In Bangladesh the railway system is still mostly in its archaic state. The railway system and technology in Bangladesh is much the same as the British rulers left 75 years ago.
There is no room for the mistake that caused the Dhaka-bound Sonar Bangla Express to hit a stationary freight train at Nangalkot. According to reports, Sonar Bangla apparently diverted to the wrong line. How could this happen? Where were the people responsible for managing the tracks? The accident also reminds us of the ubiquitous unsafe level crossings all across the country where we often see running trains hit the street vehicles killing people. In fact, the level crossings in Bangladesh remain so insecure that every year about scores of people die as trains hit vehicles.
However, though a four member probe body formed after the accident, it is yet to submit its report, a railway official said that the signalling system was broken at the station and that the switch there was mistakenly directing trains to a loop line instead of the main line, which does not require a train to stop at the station. It is rather queer to expect from the BR Director General Quamrul Ahsan who said the master of the locomotive should have stopped the train if the signal was not functioning. Instead he overshot the signal that caused the crash.
It is strange that a broken signal can remain in its place as it is despite the fact that it can cause an accident. This can only be expected to happen in Bangladesh where negligence to duty is everywhere and common.
This is the season of Eid when a number of special trains will be added to the railway's existing fleet of trains. There will be extra pressure on the existing staff, no doubt. Sunday's accident should act as a reminder to relevant people including the rail minister to make the train journey safe during Eid maintaining schedules.