An investigation into a deadly collision between a train and a microbus at a level crossing in Chattogram's Mirsharai has found the gateman and the vehicle's driver liable for the accident.
The probe panel, headed by Divisional Transport Officer of Railway (Eastern Region) Ansar Ali, submitted its findings on Wednesday.
“The report states that Saddam Hussain, the gateman at the Khoiyachhora waterfall crossing, and Golam Mustafa, the driver of the microbus, were responsible [for the accident],” said Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Abul Kalam Chowdhury.
Mustafa was among 11 people who died at the scene of the accident on Jul 29. Meanwhile, gateman Saddam is currently in jail in a case over the incident.
The microbus was bringing 16 teachers and students of the R&G Coaching Centre in Chattogram’s Hathazari back from a picnic at the Khoiyachhora waterfall when a Mahanagar Prabhati train hit the vehicle and pushed it along the tracks for over 1 kilometre. Two more passengers on the microbus later died from their injuries in hospital care. According to Kalam, although the gateman had lowered the bar ahead of the train's approach, he was not at the crossing when the accident occurred. "Meanwhile, it's come to light that the microbus driver lifted the bar and ascended the track with the vehicle. The accident took place as the vehicle's engine suddenly stopped." “The driver probably became nervous when he saw the train approaching so he could not drive away."
The probe committee has also made a few recommendations to avoid similar accidents in future, according to Kalam. At the time of the accident, the railway authorities said that Saddam Hussain, the gateman at the Khoiyachhora crossing, was a temporary hire. Eastern Railway's General Manager Jahangir Hussain had initially said Saddam was present at the scene, but the driver had forcibly lifted the bar and passed through. However, both railway police and locals cast doubts about the gateman's presence at the scene. After the disaster, two probe committees were formed by the railway authorities. The second committee, headed by Additional Chief Engineer Arman Hossain, is yet to submit its report.