Death on the blue train

DERAILED: Botswana Railways passenger train


This week’s fatal accident involving the north-bound Botswana Railways (BR) Passenger Train has exposed a total disregard for safety measures by the Parastatal management.

As the relentless rain lashed down on the land, at around 0200 on Tuesday morning, a BR Express with 400 people on board derailed near Palla-Road.

While all the passengers were safely evacuated, two crew members lost their lives. Several more were injured.

It has since emerged that the situation could have been worse had a driver on the south-bound train not defied orders from his superiors to proceed with the trip.

The Voice learnt that the brave driver took a decision to return to Francistown after encountering a flooded area in Moreomabele.

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“Management insisted that he should proceed to Gaborone, but he’d have none of it because he believed it was too risky. He then reversed all the way back to Francistown and the train was ultimately grounded,” revealed a concerned employee of the parastatal.

The Voice was informed that the driver put his job on the line and stood his ground when he was ordered to proceed to Gaborone despite the hazardous wet conditions.

“This is a driver who was once involved in a near fatal accident and was admitted in an Intensive Care United for days,” explained the BR insider, adding the driver was right to return to Francistown.

“That train should never have left in the first place! It was wet and dangerous and would almost certainly have ended in disaster!” The Voice was further told that in another incident involving BR, a locomotive and a luggage van (BCV) derailed in Zimbabwe on Saturday. The accident was kept a secret.

“As a result of the Zimbabwean accident the passenger train to the south (501) did not run on Saturday because the trains share the generator van, which at the moment was involved in an accident in Zimbabwe,” insisted the source.

The upset employee further claimed health and safety issues are brazenly flouted in the national rail carrier.

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“I can without a doubt tell you that the drinking water on the train is not safe to drink. There are two containers that are filled with water every day and sadly none of the containers has a drainage plug. This means there’s no way the container can be cleaned!”

However, in an interview with The Voice on Wednesday afternoon, Botswana Railways Public Relations Officer (PRO) Squander Baitshepi denied any knowledge of the Zimbabwe accident.

Baitshepi insisted this was news to him, before he warned that his battery was dying. His phone was still not back on air at the time of going to press.

In a Press Release on Tuesday BR assured the public that investigations into the cause of the deadly accident would be conducted by the Directorate of Accident Investigation.

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