VISAKHAPATNAM: Call it the callousness of officials in taking precautions or the recklessness of people crossing the railway crossings without any concern for safety, the fact remains that the tragic train accident in Medak district in which 19 persons, including 17 schoolchildren, were killed Thursday, is a grim reminder of such disasters waiting to happen in Visakhapatnam city or other railway crossings in Waltair division.
Seventy per cent of nearly 350 railway crossings in Waltair division are unmanned and do not have proper equipment to caution people crossing the railway-road crossings. Most people throw caution to the wind and cross the tracks.
Visakhapatnam does not have too many railway gates, but the existing ones do not show any concern for the mandatory precautions. The level crossings at Kancharapalem, RND Yard, Mangalapalem, Kothavalasa and a few others where are unmanned. “We have complained to the authorities several times to provide a gate at the Paidithalli Ammavari Temple junction, but the officials did not consider our request.
This is an area where children play on roads. The officials should take action before any mishap takes place,” P Narasimha Murthy, an auto-rickshaw driver, said.
Every day, scores of students pass through the railway crossing at Kancherapalem. “I see students cross the track with their bicycles. If not cautious, anybody can get run over by a train,” P Ramana, a resident of Kancherapalem, said.
The situation turns worse during nights as there is no proper lighting due to absence of streetlights in the area. The RND junction faces similar problems as well, where the Port employees are demanding for a railway gate.
Shockingly, some students play near the railway crossings and none is cautious over the threat lurking on the railway tracks. College students also take it easy while crossing the gate with their motorcycles. “Students of many schools and colleges near Gnanapuram, use the railway gate as a shortcut to their colleges. The danger is more during the foggy winter days when people cannot see a train until it reaches the junction as there is no proper alarm system,” K Sreenu of Kancherapalem said. Locals also allege that though they had complained to the officials about their condition, there was no response from them.
When contacted, a senior railway official said that the proposal for construction of a road-over-bridge at Rammurthy Panthulupeta had been cleared by the railway board and would be constructed after the state government provided them with 50 per cent of the funds as per the agreement.