NRZ Concerned With The Increase In Rail/Road Level Crossing Accidents And Suicidal Cases

The National Railways of Zimbabwe regrets to advise that six (6) people were injured when a Nissan Caravan motor vehicle rammed onto a passenger train which was travelling from Chinhoyi to Harare at 0945 hours on Tuesday 24 March 2015 at Banket level crossing.  The injured people were ferried to Banket Hospital where they were treated and discharged.

We have observed with concern, the disturbing and increasing incidences of rail/road level crossing accidents, as well as suicidal cases along the railway system countrywide in recent weeks and months.  It is saddening to note that the accidents continue to occur at rail/road level crossings and undesignated rail level crossings, despite the fact that all drivers of both light and heavy vehicles are aware of the need to exercise extreme caution, whenever they are approaching rail/road level crossings, throughout the country.

It is worrying and highly disturbing that we continue to lose precious human lives almost every month, in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe and Masvingo, among other cities and towns in the country.  The increase in the number of rail level crossing accidents continues to evoke sad and heart rending memories of tragic accidents that happened in the past at level crossings such as Kirkman Road in Harare, where 34 people died in an accident which occurred when a commuter omnibus rammed onto a goods train that was travelling from Harare to Bindura, on 6 March 2007.  The sad loss of precious and irreplaceable human lives at rail/road level crossings, should remind all of us in general, motorists and public transport drivers, in particular, of our obligations to the protection of life and limb.

Furthermore, suicidal cases involving people who throw themselves in front of on-coming trains and those that seat on the railway line are also on the increase, a scenario which is of major concern to the NRZ and the public at large, as people should seek counseling and advice when confronted with challenges and seemingly difficult situations.  In many cases this involves women carrying young children, which is very saddening indeed.   It is common knowledge that many people are facing hardships and social problems, but it is not an option or solution to commit suicide.

The statistics show trends or occasions in suicidal cases increasing in January, September and December, which could be attributed to the so called January “disease” and school fees dilemma among other social effects.  Rejection, negligence and societal stigma are possible contributing factors to these prevalent suicidal cases.

An analysis of recorded statistical figures of people who died after throwing themselves in front of on-coming trains reveals that from January 2007 to February 2015, the country lost 147 people in suicidal cases, a trend which is very much disturbing.

On the other hand, from January 2007 to December 2013, 167 people died and 581 were injured at rail/road level crossings.  We therefore, urge all drivers to put on a human face when driving on our roads, so as to protect and save precious and irreplaceable human lives.

Remember to drive and arrive alive, than being the late.

Meanwhile, the NRZ is appealing to all motorists and public transport drivers to exercise extreme care and caution, when approaching rail/road level crossings.  All motorists are reminded that as they are taught during driving lessons, they should always observe and exercise extreme caution, when approaching rail/road level crossings, in order to protect precious human lives.

It is also pertinent to mention that train drivers always hoot from a distance of about 1km and also 20 metres, before approaching all rail level crossings, as a warning to motorists and heavy transport drivers as well as public transport drivers to stop at rail level crossings.

Furthermore, motorists must always observe road signs such as the St. Andrews cross, puffing bill signs, flashing lights and booms, whenever they are driving in cities, towns as well as along the highways, throughout the country.

However, the NRZ is doing everything possible by engaging other stakeholders, which include the local authorities and relevant Government departments to implement short term and medium term plans, aimed at reducing rail level crossing accidents, such as the construction of speed humps and installation of flashing signals in order to warn motorists when approaching rail level crossings, among other measures meant to reduce the number of rail/road level crossing accidents at the affected areas.  As a long term measure, the construction of fly/over roads at rail level crossings, will be considered, depending on the availability of financial resources.

There are many people dying or being injured at rail level crossings, as well as those involved in suicidal cases and we cannot sit quietly without acting and changing the behavior of our drivers on the roads and those people with suicidal tendencies countrywide.  Let us all act and be responsible when driving on our roads as responsible citizens of Zimbabwe.  Remember you cannot win an argument with a train.  

Let me also hasten to mention that there are some people who were observed digging gold along the railway lines as well as under the railway lines and those ploughing along the railway line, a move which is highly dangerous and risky to the movement of both passenger and freight trains throughout the country, particularly during the rainy season as it causes wash aways that have resulted in the derailment of trains.  Furthermore, in other disturbing cases some children as well as old people were observed throwing stones to moving trains, especially passenger trains.  This has resulted in some passengers being seriously injured as well as windows of passenger coaches being shuttered.  Some children and adults have also been observed lying and sitting on railway lines, an act which is also highly dangerous to precious human lives.  These practices should be discouraged all the time as they may result in people losing precious lives.  We are appealing to the general public to desist from such retrogressive acts and report such cases to the nearest Police or Railway Security Stations.



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