FRANCISTOWN: Botswana Railways (BR) chief executive officer (CEO) Leonard Makwinja has revealed that they are concerned about accidents taking place along railway level crossings in the country.
Makwinja was addressing different stakeholders during the Southern Africa Railways Associations (SARA) safety week commemoration, which was held at Bokowe level crossing at Somerset West location.
When giving the objectives of the SARA safety week commemoration, Makwinja said that the railroad accidents near the level crossings in the country have in the past claimed a lot of lives and even damaged properties.
He said that they have realised that most railroad accidents take place due to advanced sound systems and air conditioners installed in vehicles causing a lot of distraction.
Makwinja explained that most sound systems hinder drivers from hearing the trains sounding their warnings when approaching the level crossing.
He said that such systems disturb drivers’ focus to hear the train sounding the warnings when approaching the level crossing hence leading to railroad crashes.
The BR CEO also spoke about how the new developments of Kazungula Bridge are going to play a crucial part in traffic growth along Bokowe road.
He added: “As we all know that Francistown is a gateway to the northern part of the country and we are anticipating heavy flow of traffic along the Bokowe road after opening Kazungula Bridge.”
He added that the traffic at Bokowe road is going to grow and for that reason motorists must take all the precaution when using the Bokowe level crossing.
Therefore, he urged motorists to drive cautiously and cross Bokowe railway lines only when there are no approaching trains.
Makwinja also appealed to the government to consider the introduction of grade separation highway for rail and road in order to reduce
He added that the government should avoid constructing overlapping rail and road level crossing but should consider introducing flyovers, which separate railway lines from roads in order to save more lives.
On his remarks BR board member Oreeditse Molebatsi raised the same sentiments as Makwinja.
He said that railroad accidents call for cause for concern and with that being said, there is need for driving schools to train learners on the importance of stopping before crossing the railway level.
He added that more lives have been lost before on different level crossings around the country, in particular the Bokowe level crossing because most drivers are reckless and disobey road signs near the level crossing.
Molebatsi also called upon other stakeholders such as the Taxi, Trucks and Bus associations to speak to their members so that they can understand and align themselves with railroad safety tips.
He further said: “I also implore the Botswana Police Service to take action against drivers who do not obey road signs, especially those that tend to ignore the stop signs at the level crossing.”
He stated that road accidents that take place along the railway lines call for greater concern, as they may either claim lives and/or cause permanent injuries to affected individuals.
The BR board member also said that the same road accidents cause emotional trauma to the railway crews and those affected and their families.
He encouraged parents to teach their children to obey railroad safety protocols at all times and always stop before crossing the railway line.