Thursday night news started dripping in via social media to the extent that Botswana Railways (BR) train was at it again, this time, catching fire wile moving, just outside Ramotswa, destined to Gaborone.
It completes a bout of controversies and allegations of scandals rocking BR’s trains following the re-introduction of the Blue Train a few weeks ago. One would have wished that the recent scandals are dealt with and then life goes on, but it would seem the scandals with our trains are here to stay.
Unbearable to the mind is the thought of a train catching fire anytime. No one remembers the last time a Botswana train was reported to have caught fire while moving. This is probably a first in many decades.
It is a worrying development in that just the thought of the possibility of this disaster of a train catching fire, repeating itself, is enough to scare thousands of potential train users away from boarding the train, or seeing the train as a reliable mode of transport.One might argue that buses and cars do seldom catch fire while moving, but that has not scared people from buying cars or boarding buses.
With allegations rife of poor workmanships on the trains, who would not use the recent bad examples as indicators of something gone terribly wrong with the general mechanics of our trains or coaches!
News of a burning train is the last thing you want to hear after scandals or allegations of corrupt deals, poor workmanships, which were soon followed by nasty incidents such as a train derailing at Ramotswa, electricity failure or electric fault with the first blue-train trip, and then another electricity fault, leading to a train catching fire!! There is no doubt Botswana Railways has a lot of cleaning up to do, its name has been tarnished by a chain of events, all looking like they have to do with the consequences of inefficiencies inside the BR systems.
Surely, after we have experienced so much in so little time, would a commission of enquiry into the state of affairs at the trains’ company, be not the best thing to do as a matter of urgency, and those findings made public?