Some seven people have lost their lives in recent railway fatalities
Rail-related fatalities are on the rise in Gopalganj, with at least 12 rail crossings being unauthorised and unmanned. The situation has put at risk the lives of several thousands of people in the district.
Some seven people have lost their lives in recent railway fatalities. Locals say the railway authorities have a tendency to develop infrastructure by ignoring safety-related issues.
They fear that if the authorities continue to put emphasis only on structural development without proper safety measures, such fatalities will only increase.
Sources at the Rajbari Assistant Executive Engineer's office said the 65 kilometres of rail line from Gopalganj to Narail has 30 rail crossings, of which only 18 are manned. The remaining 12 rail crossings are unauthorised and unattended.
The absence of vigilance at level crossings has led to a rise in the number of rail fatalities, several locals have said.
Ahad Ali, a resident of Kashiani upazila's Basspur village, said people were in constant fright as very recently (January 28) a motorcycle had rammed into a train, killing the three people riding it.
"We are scared to cross the crossings each time and if the crossings are not manned and protected soon, this type of accident may occur again," he added.
Abul Bashar, a resident of Sadar upazila, said a similar accident took place and killed three people in March 2019. The gatekeeper had been absent at the spot where he should have been.
"Though the gatekeeper was punished afterwards, this kind of irresponsible behaviour of the authorities can lead to severe casualties. Proper accountability and punishment should be ensured to stop these incidents," said Bashar.
Rajbari Railway Assistant Executive Engineer Kazi Waliul Haque said the situation worsened after the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) built new roads over the rail lines, and new unprotected rail crossings came up without the knowledge of the railway.
"To install new rail crossings, local representatives would have to apply to the higher authority with their concerns and as soon as we receive orders from the higher authority, we will begin the project," the official said.
Locals have alleged the railway authorities simply placed a placard stating, ‘As there is no gateman at the level crossing, people should cross it at their own risk’. They do not think it is enough to stop accidents.
Meanwhile, Gopalganj LGED Executive Engineer AK Fazlul Haque blamed the railway authority for the unprotected gates.m"The railway authorities are accountable for the casualties as it is their responsibility to ensure safety for pedestrians," he said.
Subrata Thakur, Upazila Chairman of Kashiani, said he along with other representatives would soon apply to the railway authorities to have gates installed and appropriate manpower deployed to stop these incidents.