Closure of reopened railway stations!

Published: July 04, 2018 22:01:48 | Updated: July 06, 2018 22:06:36

The Prime Minister's directive to reopen all the closed railway stations is yet to be fully complied with. She issued a directive on March 13, 2016 to reopen all such stations within a year. The opening of only 80 out of the 162 closed stations after two years and four months cannot be considered compliance of her directive. Also, reopened stations are now facing fresh closure. The railway authority claims it is compelled to do so simply on account of manpower shortage. The dispute over recruitment policy between the Bangladesh Railway and the Ministry of Railway is one of the bones of contention but it is not the only one. A bar imposed by the court     on recruitment of employees at different levels involving earlier corruption has acted as an impediment to the process too.

These are advanced as reasons for not proceeding with the required recruitment of the staff for reopening or keeping the reopened stations in operation. But one cannot be blamed for smelling rat in the entire process. The country's railway was systematically destroyed by some quarters with an ulterior motive. It would not be surprising if those quarters are still active in order to stop the revival of the Bangladesh Railway. Problems created one after another so far indicate that the aim is to stall or frustrate the programme of reopening of the closed stations. Direct defiance of the prime minister's order is impossible; so the attempt is to create a condition where the programme cannot succeed. Or else, there is no explanation for not moving ahead with the legal matters for their resolution during the two years and four months.

The Bangladesh Railway was rendered a losing concern and a poor performer in order to make way for huge investment in roads and highways. Now that the prime minister is interested in revival of the railway it is apparently not to the liking of many. Anti-railway people are creating unnecessary disputes over fresh recruitment so that closed stations cannot be reopened. If it can be proved that the reopened stations had to be closed again due to shortage of manpower, the quarters opposed to revival of the railway will feel elated. They will succeed in carrying forward their negative agenda. The authorities concerned had got more than two years' time to overcome the impediments including the legal one. But they were evidently not serious about taking any worthwhile initiative.

It is in this perspective, the prime minister may be required to intervene in the matter once again. Her genuine concern about the matter must not be allowed to get undermined. The fact is that in this heavily populous country, buses cannot be the primary mode of transportation. Similarly, trucks or covered vans also cannot be the number one carriers of cargoes. A well devised railway network can serve the nation better for long years with onetime investment. Cheaper and comfortable, train journeys or commuting and wagon shipment of goods can catapult the country's economy several notches up. 

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