Railway officials concerned over careless attitude of authorities

Published : 12:02 am  February 20, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 

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Unauthorised settlers in Railway Department land

 

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  • They complain it is beyond their capacity to rectify the numerous and complicated issues involved
  • Measures had been taken to provide deeds to unauthorized settlers, away from the main lines

 

Text & Pics by Reka Tharangani   

The Railway Department was taking legal action against unauthorized settlers in its land, General Manager of the Railways S. S. Abeywrickrema said.   


“To everyone it seems like we are not doing anything to remove these people from our lands, because it is dangerous to have them close to the railway lines, but that is not the case,” he said.   
Many of the unauthorized settlers who were removed from these lands are often resettled in the same land by politicians and through protest campaigns that they hold, opposing such moves.   
“What they don’t understand is that many of them are in places that are not just dangerous for the commuters using the train but also to the residents themselves,” Abeywickrema said.   


Reiterating that they worked towards the safety of the commuters and the unauthorized settlers, Mr. Abeywickrema also said that measures had been taken to provide deeds to unauthorized settlers, away from the main lines, and ensure they pay the government taxes.   


When questioned if the evening trains had fewer compartments, the General Manager replied in the negative and stated they did not have enough facilities to cater to the considerable crowd using their services in the evening.   


“We don’t have enough compartments to cater to this crowd. We are in the process of bringing down 15 engines and 160 compartments from China and India soon,” he said. Additionally, 20 containers to transport goods and 30 tanks to transport oil will also be brought down.   


Speaking of the accident in Angulana which killed four when a train collided with a lorry that was parked near a railway line, Mr. Abeywickrema while admitting the line needed to be protected, said that the authorities had done so on numerous occasions.   


“They were always dismantled and stolen and we don’t have funds to make anything with cement. We do need to look at alternative sources here but we would like to request the residents to patrol these areas and ensure these protections are still there, as we cannot do something like this alone,” he said.   


Mr. Abeywickrema went on to say that a committee to construct a protective fence for the area was appointed, however, people have stolen the fences that we put up in the area and others along the line.   

 

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A railway officer who wished to remain anonymous said the location in which the accident had occurred was the scene of many others and that they had brought it to the attention of high ranking officers on many occasions.  


“The road and the railway line run close together in this area, therefore it is very dangerous. Close to 11 people have died in accidents here,” the source said.   


“Two vehicles could not comfortably cross over at the location as the road was also very narrow even when there are no trains using the line, but if there are it would at least endanger the lives of four people,” the source said.   


While the issue has been brought to the notice of the Road Development Authority, Railway Department, politicians, local government bodies and provincial bodies no action has been taken as of yet, the officer said.     

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