Although the train services remained suspended for over two months as part of the lockdown enforced to contain Covid-19 transmission, at least 113 people were killed in 105 railway accidents across the country in the last six months, according to a report.
“At least 113 people, including 26 women and 11 children, were killed and 15 others injured in 105 railway accidents between January 1 and June 30,” says the report jointly prepared by Green Club of Bangladesh (GCB) and National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR), two rights groups.
According to a press release issued on Friday, the GCB and NCPSRR accumulated data from accident reports of 24 national dailies, 10 regional newspapers and nine online news portals, including news agencies.
As per the findings, lack of awareness and poor maintenance and monitoring at level-crossings, including railway bridges, caused the accidents.
A total of 29 people, including four women and five children, lost their lives in 26 accidents in January alone, the report said.
Meanwhile, 42 accidents occurred in February, killing 44 people and injuring seven others. Among the deceased, 14 were women and two children.
In March, 19 people, including six women and two children, were killed and eight others injured in 18 accidents.
Four accidents took place in May killing four people, including three women and one child.
In June, at least 17 people, including a woman and two children, were killed in 15 accidents.
The GCB and the NCPSRR identified five major reasons behind the rise in railway accidents.
The reasons are: Using mobile phones by pedestrians while crossing rail tracks, lack of awareness, negligence of railway employees, poor maintenance of level-crossings and rail tracks and rail bridges.
Ashis Kumar Dey, general secretary of the NCPSRR, said the railway accidents basically occurred in four months as train services were suspended in April and May during lockdown.
He said at least 13 rail bridges with 'Dead Stop' signs are being used over 179 kilometres on Sylhet-Akhaura route, putting the lives of passengers at risks.
Eight of these 'Dead Stops' are over an 18-km stretch from Sylhet to Mogla Bazar and five over a 164-km area from Mogla Bazar to Akhaura Bridge, he added.
The authorities concerned have already put up “Dead Stop” signs at rail bridges last year instructing trains to stop first before crossing it and then run at a speed of only five km per hour, he added.