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Dangerous Death Traps on Sylhet to Akhaura Railway

2The level crossings on Sylhet-Dhaka and Sylhet-Akhaura-Chittagong have made the pedestrians’ life risky, dangerous, disastrous, vulnerable and pertaining to death. The unprotected rail crossings, poor signaling system and negligence of gatemen are commonly blamed for the deadly train accidents in recent days. A number of risky, unmanned and unprotected level crossings in the heart of the District expose the dwellers into high risk of accidents. Thousands of people including students, service holders and businessmen cross the busy level crossings of the area everyday with high-risks.

The level-crossing across the railway lines from Chattak to Sylhet. Sylhet to Akhaura-Chittagong and Sylhet to Dhaka via Akhaura have been branded ‘death-traps’ as many as 67 persons have been killed owing to rail-crossing where no gate-man or gate-keepers are deployed. If the level-crossings won’t have gatemen, more accidents owing the insecurity on Sylhet-Akhaura, Sylhet to Chattak may take place in future and the death procession will linger. Illegally built those level crossings need to be closed and the authorised rail-crossings should have the deployment of gatemen is a must to wind up the branded death-traps of Sylhet-Akhaura, Sylhet-Dhaka and Sylhet-Chattak railway lines.

According to Bangladesh Railways (BR) thana source, 5 valid railway crossings are on Sylhet to Chattak line while from Sylhet to Bhatera (Kulaura) there are nine rail-crossings. Out of these 14 crossings there are only 6 gatemen deployed. Other 8 railway crossings have not gatemen. Besides, from Bhatera to Chattak via Sylhet Railway line there are over 100 illegal rail-crossings.

The source said, if any railway crossing would have been made, there should be prior approval of the Bangladesh Railway Department and side by-side, two gates should be erected by the willing institutions or the persons simultaneously a gateman should be engaged there. Besides, on the sideways of railway lines, there have been homestead, shops, markets and establishments and the railway crossings are being earmarked without prior permission of the Bangladesh Railway. It can be mentioned here that sporadic crossing over rail line, legally putting up gate and escaping or avoiding over bridge have been causing accidents which sometimes lead to death. Approving crossing has become costlier and time spending.

As a result, the people living beside the railway lines made crossing in their own way and needs. These whimsical crossings have become more and more vulnerable day by day and simultaneously rail accidents are on increase.

According to Sylhet GRP Police in Chattak-Kulaura via Dhaka-Sylhet line 67 persons have been killed in the last 5 years. As per year-wise break up: 13 have been killed in 2016, 9 in 2015, 13 in 2014, 10 in 2013 and 22 persons have been killed in 2012. In order to grow awareness against passengers, publicity campaigns should be launched. A GRP Sylhet Thana Officer in-charge Mr. Jahangir Hussain said, walking along railway lines using mobile phones caused many unusual deaths across the country. He added people should be made aware off not using mobile phones while walking along or crossing the railway lines. Over bridges should be used in order to avoid unusual and untoward incidents claiming both life and property.

In city’s Sylhet railway crossing area, Saleh Ahmed, a businessman said: “We have to pass the level crossing risking our life everyday as there is hardly any gatekeeper there.” Often gatemen remain absent from their duty at the rail crossing to control traffic movement, he added.

A gateman in the city seeking anonymity said: “Sometimes unruly drivers pass the level crossings in haste ignoring the bar when they put barriers at level crossings.” However, often pedestrians are seen crossing railway tracks giving a damn to the rules when a speeding train is approaching. Such carelessness is one of the major causes of serious accidents, he added.

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