Risky Railway Crossing

Railway track or death row?


Text by Jamil Khan | KARACHI


YOU would think that after seeing and hearing of dozens of people squander their lives on the railway track, the residents of Drigh Road, Natha Khan Goth and Shah Faisal Colony would take a hint. In utter defiance of common sense, people continue to take on fate every day and the number of inmates on this death row, which has no courts passing sentences, grows faster than that of any jail anywhere in the world.

The executioner rushes in at 110 kilometres an hour and makes no mistake in disposing of its victims, all of whom, without exception, drowned the cries ofPhoto by Liaquatullah Khan reason and tried to rush across the railway tracks, thinking they could beat the train, in an effort to save time. A few victims were lucky enough to escape with their lives and only suffer injuries.

One might be tempted to forgive these poor souls. There is only one overhead pedestrian bridge that serves the residents of these areas, located at Drigh Road Junction. For most of these residents, it is very far and inconvenient and adds significantly to their commuting time, apart from sapping their energy. Still, there can be no excuse for not looking left and right before crossing the tracks, or worse, taking the speeding train head-on, thinking oneself to be the quicker of the two.

Among the ranks of the executed are cyclists and motorcyclists too, who tried to drag their two-wheelers across the tracks, ignoring the two proper tracks constructed by the government.

The railway police and the people in these areas have witnessed many deaths and injuries in the last two decades alone and yet, have done nothing to educate people to avoid crossing these tracks at such great risk.

One such victim, whose name could not be ascertained, lost only a motorcycle to Faisalabad-bound Super Express. His wife walked two steps ahead of him and he was dragging his motorcycle across the track. He managed to save himself and his wife, but the motorcycle was reduced to scrap before their eyes within seconds. Eyewitnesses told Daily Times that the train driver had applied the pressure brakes and shouted at the couple in an effort to avoid damage and only the motorcycle was destroyed.

“It seems the two were oblivious to the approaching train, or chose to ignore it completely,” an eye-witness remarked.

The railway police seem to be helpless and cannot act against this crime for the simple reason that it is committed every single day.

Pakistan Railway Police Drigh Road In-Charge Mirza Irshad Baig told Daily Times that crossing the railway track is expressly forbidden for this very reason. However, pedestrians and people dragging two-wheelers continue to challenge speeding trains every day.

“We have repeatedly urged the people to use the proper tracks and the overhead pedestrian bridge,” said Baig. “But we are powerless to take action. If we take action against any pedestrian crossing the railway tracks, there will be massive riots, as there is a lack of conveniently-located overhead pedestrian bridges for the people to reach Shahrah-e-Faisal.”

-Published in Daily Times | Nov 11, 2008

~ by jamilkhan on November 11, 2008.

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