Train accident victims should get proper compensation


At least four people were killed and over hundred injured as an intercity train derailed in Kulaura upazila of Moulvibazar on Sunday night. Five compartments of Dhaka-bound 'Upaban Express' train from Sylhet broke down as it veered off the tracks around 11:40pm at a culvert over the Barochhara Canal, 200 yards off Baramchal Railway Station. Among the injured, 62 were treated in Kulaura upazila health complex and 20 with severe wound were sent to Sylhet Osmani Medical College Hospital. The rail communications resumed on Monday morning after remaining suspended following the accident.

Railway is considered as a safe means of transportation. What can be more unfortunate if that comparatively safe transport sees accidents one after another? Several hundred people were crashed under the wheels of a train last year. Railway authorities blame it on people’s lack of awareness. But, it is not possible to blame people or the passengers for the accident in Kulaura.

The secretary to the railway ministry has termed the accident as fatal. But we are afraid whether we would get answers as to why this accident happened or who were responsible for it. Proper investigation and justice were hardly ensured in such cases in the past. A four-member probe body headed by the chief mechanical engineer of the railway’s eastern zone Md Mizanur Rahman was formed and they were asked to submit a report within three working days. The train was overloaded with passengers as the road communication of Sylhet with Dhaka had been suspended for six days after a bridge collapsed in Brahmanbaria. On the other hand, the driver increased the speed of the train to make up for the delay in Kulaura station. It is assumed that the culvert could not sustain the pressure of the overcrowded train and its speed. There was a cautionary sign that mentioned that the highest speed limit on the culvert is 20 kilometres. But the passengers said the speed of the train was around 80 kilometres before the accident. Thus, the railway authorities cannot shun their responsibility in the accident. We demand the authorities give appropriate reparation to the families of the dead and ensure proper treatment of the wounded. This demand is not irrational considering the High Court verdict asking compensation for road accident victims. The railway department is beset with various irregularities and corruption. Questions remain if the authorities give due priority to maintenance works of bridges and culverts on different rail tracks.

A former railway minister himself was accused of graft charges after declaring zero tolerance policy against corruption. The newly appointed railway minister called for drastic changes in the ministry but no action had been taken thus far. Eid holidaymakers suffered heavily as trains failed to maintain schedules. A state-run body cannot function this way.

We think, another social reality should be given notice. The locals rushed in to rescue the suffering people immediately after the accident. They also urged other people to join the rescue work by announcing the accident on the microphone. This is commendable. However, some local miscreants also allegedly stole the belongings of the victims. How can we get redemption form such moral degradation?

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