According to Comilla Railway police outpost sources five people were run over by trains between June and August this year
The Banashua Bridge in Sadar upazila of Comilla has become a death trap for local pedestrians who use it to save time on their way home and to local markets near the bridge.
According to Comilla Railway police outpost sources five people were run over by trains between June and August this year. There is no way off the bridge when there is an oncoming train, making it very dangerous for pedestrians using this bridge really meant for trains.
There have also been some incidents where vehicles were rammed by trains for lack of rail gates though there have been no casualties on that account.
Such hazardous circumstances involving rail tracks and railway bridges being used by pedestrians have resulted in many casualties.
On August 25, the body of a Buddist monk, Shubha Bikash Chakma, 50, was recovered from the Gomti River below the bridge.
On August 23, two teenagers were killed when a train ran them over on the south side of the bridge.
The teenagers were identified as Swapnil Hoque Adittiya, 13, son of Monirul Hoque from Shashongacha in Sadar upazila, and Shetu Roy, daughter of Subol Roy from Dharmapur in the same upazila.
On August 22, the bodies of three people, including two unidentified ones, were recovered from the Gomti River below the bridge, evidently hit by a train.
Comilla railway outpost in-charge, Sub-Inspector (SI) Mizbaul Alam Choudhury said the accidents are increasing in the area for a number of reasons, such as careless commuters taking risks trying to save time, an increasing number of shops beside the Gomti River attracting customers, the lack of rail gates on roads, and no pedestrian walkways on the railway bridge.
"We have informed the Chittagong Superintendent of Police about the rising number of accidents on the bridge. We hope the number will go down once proper security measures are taken," added SI Mizbaul.
Abul Khayer, a local, said: "People often cross the bridge on foot at their peril, to coffee houses on the eastern side of the bridge."
Even though there is a bridge for pedestrians about two kilometres away from the railway bridge, this correspondent found teenager Shahadat Hossain crossing the Banashua railway Bridge on foot.
When he was asked why he was using the bridge, he replied: “It’s quicker and saves time.”
Liakat Ali Majumdar, deputy assistant engineer of Comilla Railway said: "It is illegal for pedestrians to walk on the Banashua Bridge. But because of local markets and residences built close to it, people regularly use it, leading to frequent accidents.
"There will be a new bridge replacing the current one by 2020, which will have a walkway for local pedestrians. We hope the number of accidents will fall then."