More than 700 level crossings in the western region of Bangladesh Railway — Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions — are operating without gatemen, increasing the risks of deadly accidents.
Sources said 715 level-crossings do not have gatemen while the authorities concerned have hung warning signs in designated areas.
Another 339 unauthorised level-crossings lack warning signs, making the movement of vehicles and passersby risky.
The railway took a five-year project in July 2015 to improve the level-crossings in the western region.Many accidents take place in the rail crossings for lack of gatemen.
On July 15 this year, 11 people were killed after ‘Padma Express’ from Rajshahi hit a microbus carrying a bridal party at Ullapara in Sirajganj under the Railway’s west zone.
But minor accidents usually remain in the shadow.
Chief Engineer of Railway West zone Al Fattah Mohammad Masudur Rahman said there are 1,034 authorised level-crossings but only 319 of them had gatemen.
Railway officials said the number of unauthorised level-crossings increased because of the construction of new roads beside rail tracks.
Although permission is needed from the railways to construct road over the tracks, government agencies usually do not follow the rule. Several meetings with the authorities concerned have yielded no result, the railways officials claimed.
Executive Engineer Mostafizur Rahman, director of a project to improve level-crossings in the west zone, said unauthorised and unsafe level-crossings will be made safer.
Under the project, the authorities have taken necessary measures to approve 53 unauthorised level-crossings and appoint gatemen to 204 others, he said.
General Manager of Railway West zone Abdul Awal Bhuiya said some level-crossings do not have gatemen and the authorities concerned have kept them operational by recruiting people on temporary basis.
He hoped the implementation of the ongoing project will solve the problem.