Train accidents are not new in Pakistan, they are as old as the system itself but the lamentable aspect is that we as a nation have become accustomed to such incidents and have developed a habit of shedding tears after the occurrence of every event and forget the same after burial ceremony. The horrific incident where a running train smashed a rickshaw, carrying 14 passengers, including five children, over unmanned railway crossing near Sheikhupura lost their lives is a symptom of same malady.

The incident occurred due to negligence of station master or the overconfidence and enthusiasm of the rickshaw driver. The railway minister when visiting the place appeared helpless in apprehending the culprit. It is the duty of the Ministry to install guards and gates where ever the railway line crosses a city. Why this place was unmanned is hard to understand.

One is reminded of triple railway accident that took place in the first half of January 2007. In the first, an electric wire fell on Quetta Express and killed 15 passengers while a railway officer DTO was reported to have said that the accident occurred because many people boarded the train illegally. (Perhaps the whole railway staff including the station master, guard, driver, railway police and WAPDA men for allowing high powered transmission line run over the railway track and were responsible).

Probably no action was taken, another accident happened in the vicinity of Hyderabad, Sindh, where 6 people lost their lives. Similarly a train crushed 6 children near Bahawalpur. In the wake of these incidents, the Railway Minister of the time announced ambitious projects like linking Karachi with China by railway.

Now after 6 years the new democratic government signed MOU with China for mega project of linking China with Karachi by laying a railway track, while people still die miserably in railway accidents which can be avoided if all concerned perform their duties efficiently instead of kowtowing to politicians. However if drastic action was taken in the past against the culprits and appropriate measures adopted by railway authorities to maintain and safeguard the railway tracks the recent event could have been averted.

RAJA SHAFAATULLAH,

Islamabad, July 7.