LAHORE - Friday’s train incident at Patoki in which four labourers were killed and 10 other sustained multiple injuries once again highlighted that rulers are least worried about poor’s safety.

A factory bus carrying labourers was crushed by a freight train on Friday wee hours at a level crossing near Patoki, around 60 km west of Lahore. It was darkness and the man deputed at level crossing could not see the train, leaving the gate opened.

A media report quoted the gateman confirming there is no communication system at the level crossings between Habibabad and Pattoki railway stations.

On the same day, six people died and 18 injured when two coordinated blasts targeting railway tracks hit near the Rawalpindi-bound Jaffar Express in Aab-e-Gum area of Balochistan’s Bolan district.

Following the incidents, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique ordered inquiry, arrest of the responsible and announced compensation of Rs1million and Rs300,000 each for deceased and injured respectively. He also held a meeting on railways security issues at headquarters yesterday.

But, the overall situation depicts the government is least concerned for the safety of the people. Terrorist attacks on trains by Baloch insurgents care ugly episodes which the country has been witnessing for more than 10 years. The number of such attacks somehow decreased due to security improvement in the area.

However, the conversion of unmanned level crossing into manned level crossing and improve communication system is purely an issue which could be resolved if Railways and provincial governments are ready to pay a little attention. Since manning the level crossing is a provincial matter as per Section 12 of the Railway Act 1890, the respective governments are least worried to allocate funds for the purpose.

An official said half of the railways total 4,072 level-crossings were unmanned. More than 100 people,  including schoolchildren and women lost their lives, in 800 accidents  in the past five years. From Jan 1 to June 30, there have been 37 accidents at unmanned level crossings, according to the official.

Railways minister during yesterday’s meeting again requested the provincial governments to pay attention on the issue and release funds for manning the level crossing.

 He also stressed the need for improvement of security on railway tracks and communication system.

Saad Rafique also reviewed work progress on project of railway stations upgrade and reconstruction. He directed the MD stations upgrade Taimor Khan Gilzai to submit monthly work performance report with the minister.

Railways CEO Javed Anwar, Adviser to minister Anjum Pervaiz, Finance member Ghulam Mustafa and Railways Police officials also attended the meeting.