LAHORE: Serious administrative, operational and security lapses led to Thursday’s Tezgam train inferno, as the officials who were supposed to take measures to avert such accidents apparently showed sheer negligence in performing their duties, ignoring the relevant laws or the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Under section 59(1) of the Railway Act, 1890, “no passenger/person is allowed to take with him/her, or to require railway admin to carry, any dangerous or offensive goods in trains, stations, offices etc”. Similarly, as per article 6.5 of the coaching tariff (II), “explosives, dangerous and inflammable things cannot be booked”. Moreover, clause-2 of the caution as narrated in the railways’ act, prohibits lighting oil stoves or any kind of fire inside the train compartments.
“A caution has been issued in the interest of the passengers to ensure their safety as well as of the rolling stock. There have been cases in the past when such irregular practices resulted into loss of lives, injury to passengers and substantial damage to the coaches,” reads an internal report of the PR.
The report says that due to the fire incident, eight trains remained stuck for about four to seven hours at various stations (Liaqatpur, Khanpur, Rahimyar Khan, Kot Semaba, Tarinda and Sahja) on way to their upcountry destinations.
According to a PR official, though those who carried stoves and cylinders inside the train were also at fault, the railway officials too are guilty of not stopping them by checking their luggage when they entered the station’s premises and then the coaches of the ill-fated train that was carrying a total load of around 770 tons.
“I think the railway police performing duty at stations as well as inside trains, the conductor guards, the ticket examiners, station masters, assistant station masters and others are legally and morally bound to deny entry to the passengers carrying such items (gas cylinders, stoves etc). Had they performed their duties well under the rules of business and the SOPs, they could have averted this tragedy,” the official, who requested anonymity, said.
He said those responsible for checking the number of passengers boarding a train with their luggage and ensuring it was as per capacity of the coaches should also be questioned.
“I am wonder how more than 85 passengers, with so much luggage succeeded in boarding an economy class coach having total capacity of just 76 passengers,” he added.
Talking to Dawn, the PR’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Aijaz Ahmad Buriro admitted the security lapse, pledging that those who would be held responsible in the inquiry report, would be taken to task.
“It is true that there were serious security and safety lapses that led to this tragic incident. So we will not spare the officials responsible for the incident. We have also launched a drive to educate the passengers in this regard,” he explained.
Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2019