• Wednesday, Feb 26, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:02 pm

Spike in metal theft imperils Dhaka-Sylhet rail tracks

  • Published at 11:13 pm December 17th, 2019
File photo shows Bamboo plants are securing the railtrack sleepers or tie, instead of metal bolts Dhaka Tribune

Rail track components such as iron nuts, bolts, slippers, clips, and spikes often get stolen by local miscreants mostly at night

The 52km rail track that passes through Habiganj district is causing huge risk to commuters as it is becoming riskier day by day due to the menace of thieves stealing properties of the state-run enterprise to make a quick buck.

Railway properties and train items have always been an easy target for rustlers, but recent spree of concurrent rail accidents leading to huge casualties making the passengers and locals worry about the condition of the tracks and they are anticipating accidents any minute.

Shaistaganj Railway office say, there are around 48 bridges and culverts attached to the tracks that are most vulnerable to these curb theft, and trains regularly crossing these bridges, tracks are at huge risk of casualty as the tracks are not connected well enough.

They say, rail track components such as iron nuts, bolts, slippers, clips, and spikes often get stolen by local miscreants mostly at night.

Adding to the problem, there is less manpower for repair of these faulty tracks and lesser logistic support to restore the stolen parts, alleged some railway officials.

Rafique Miah, a railway employee said they are trying their best to prevent these pilferages but due to the railway's acute manpower crisis, they are running low.

He said: "We have only eight employees to look over these matters against 24 posts so it is hard for us to check and repair the tracks in a timely manner."

Locals alleged mostly youths from the locality who are addicted to drugs engage in thievery and are prone to steal the rail-track parts and sell them to workshops and stores in the scrap market.

Not only that, contributing to the risk factors, locals say, some crossings do not even have gates, and accidents occur regularly.

Al Amin, resident of Madhabpur upazila conveyed that they have informed the railway authority several times to install gates at the crossings and said: "The rail tracks are so worn out, that the running locomotives shake while crossing these bridges."

The authority sometimes uses wood or wire in place of the iron bolts that were stolen.

Acknowledging the manpower shortage in the districts, Shaistaganj Railway's Deputy Assistant Engineer Saiful Islam said: "We are casting the iron bolts after replacing them to prevent the miscreants from stealing."

"We have half the human resources and logistics support we need, despite it we are trying our best to make the tracks safer," he added.

According to Buet’s Accident Research Institute (ARI), 122 people were killed and 296 others wounded in 103 rail-related incidents as of July 15 this year.

Some 244 people lost their lives and 228 others were injured in 235 rail-related fatalities in 2018, while 229 died and 156 were hurt in 211 such incidents the previous year, says ARI.