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June 11, 2021

Tragic memories of the past

 
June 11, 2021

The recent Ghotki incident which claimed the lives of more than 60 people and left more than a hundred people injured reminded me of another tragic incident that occurred in 2005 near Ghotki. I was one of the passengers in that ill-fated train. It was 3.30 am and we had hardly gone to sleep when we heard a blast. Our carriage shook violently. Inside the carriage, it was dark and suffocating. All I could hear were the screams of the injured who were crying for help. I managed to cut the window glass and came out of the suffocating carriage. I helped my family get out in the open. How we managed to come back to Karachi instead of continuing our journey to the Kaghan Valley – the destination we had chosen for our holidays – is a different story. I am sure that even today, the authorities will give the same reasons they did many years back – that it was the driver’s fault of train, that the signalling system of the railways is outdated, that the old tracks were responsible for the accident, and that the previous governments did nothing to improve the system. Between the 2005 Ghotki accident and the present one, dozens of train accidents have occurred, killing close to 200 people and injuring many more. It seems that the situation is not any better than what we witnessed almost 12 years ago. Now, the authorities are claiming that the ML-1 project, whose completion is nowhere in sight, will be a game changer. Such shameful excuses are unacceptable in this modern era when train travel has been made much safer by modernising its signalling and control systems. Our governments never invest in improving the already existing systems. They are more focused on launching new projects that can help them gain popularity among people.

Malik ul Quddoos

Karachi