By Charles Tjatindi
A recent accident involving a train and a truck has triggered a public outcry about the safety of certain rail crossings at the harbour town. A train and a cement carrying truck collided on the rail crossing in Anna Mupetami Avenue earlier this week.
Although no one was hurt, the frequency of train accidents at this particular crossing has elicited criticism that the Municipality should “do something about traffic control at this crossing”.
The traffic division and police were on the scene within minutes of the accident that saw the train dragging the truck and its trailers through the railway fence, coming to a stop behind the first building on Energy Street.
In a previous accident at the same crossing, a truck carrying fish collided with a train while smaller cars have also been involved in accidents with trains.
Many of the bystanders put the blame squarely on the negligence of the vehicle drivers, while others agreed that the crossing be made safer through either traffic lights or definite stop signs and not only the yield type of rail crossing signs.
TransNamib’s Public Relations Officer, Ritha Nghiitwikwa, expressed concern over the increase of train accidents. She said the national transport entity would erect safety billboards at such crossings.
“We already have additional safety measures such as booms in the pipeline, but a final decision will still be made. In the meantime, we would like to encourage motorists who have to cross railway lines to be very cautious and to obey any traffic signs or signals by rail officials especially when trains are moving towards the crossing,” she said.
She noted that despite wide publicity and cautionary notices in newspapers about the dangers at train crossings, accidents were still occurring due to motorists using cellphones or not paying attention to railway traffic. It takes the train 600-800 metres to come to a complete standstill.
The TransNamib spokesperson noted with concern that significant train accidents continue to occur on the Namibian rail network especially at level crossings. She urged motorists, especially heavy vehicle drivers and pedestrians, to be careful when approaching and using railway crossings. Other tips, as released by TransNamib are:
– Road users should always expect a train at any given time;
– Slow down, and be prepared to stop at a level crossing;
– Do not enter a level crossing if red lights are flashing;
– Stop, listen, and look out for possible approaching trains;
– Look if there is a train coming, and wait for it to pass and stop, look, and listen again before crossing, as another train may be approaching;
– Always make sure that the line is clear of approaching trains;
– Check for other traffic on the other side of the level crossing;
– You might not hear the train when using earphones, cellphones, and radios;
– Never assume the train is a long way off;
– Always obey all the warning signs;
– Never queue on a railway crossing;
– Never park your vehicle on the tracks;
– Let us be responsible and contribute to the reduction of dangers and fatalities, and improve safety on our national railway network.