Six Railway Officials Suspended Following Hazara Express Tragedy in Pakistan

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The Pakistan Railways’ administration has taken swift action by suspending six officials, including two high-ranking officers, in connection with the recent derailment of the Hazara Express near Nawabshah. The tragic incident resulted in the loss of at least 30 lives and numerous injuries.

The derailment occurred when ten bogies of the Havelian-bound Hazara Express derailed near Sarhari Railway Station in Sindh’s Sanghar district. Pakistan Railways officials initially attributed the incident to a breakage of the railway line and a hot axle that caused a disruption in movement. However, Railways Minister Saad Rafique indicated that sabotage or mechanical failure could not be ruled out and insisted that the railway track was in good condition.

A six-member team has been appointed to investigate the crash and determine its cause. The Ministry of Railways issued a notification suspending the six officials with immediate effect until further orders based on the Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020. The suspended officials include a divisional executive engineer from Sukkur, a diesel workshop manager in Karachi, an assistant executive engineer of Nawabshah, a permanent way officer of Shahdadpur, a power controller from Kotri, and a keyman.

During the departmental probe into the crash, it was revealed that missing fishplates and a damaged track were responsible for the derailment. The investigating team also identified the skidding of the train’s locomotive as another contributing factor. The report highlighted the possibility of sabotage, as the derailed coaches were dragged a considerable distance of 750 feet. The report contained dissenting notes as well.

Minister for Railways, Khawaja Saad Rafique, also addressed the incident in the National Assembly. He dismissed claims of wooden pieces being used to connect the bogies of the ill-fated train. He emphasized two factors that led to the tragedy: firstly, the jamming of the locomotive wheels, which should have been detached as a safety precaution, and secondly, a flaw in the rail top that aggravated the problem. Rafique assured the assembly that a comprehensive report on the incident would be available soon.

The minister highlighted the deteriorating condition of a railway segment between Rohri and Kotri and requested an allocation of Rs10 billion to Rs12 billion to address the issue. He urged the incoming government to release the funds to prevent future crashes. The government has announced compensation of Rs1.5 million to the heirs of each deceased, but Rafique emphasized that compensation alone is not a solution. He stressed the importance of investing in the railway sector for efficient operations.

The suspension of the officials and the ongoing investigation demonstrate the government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and reliability of railway services in Pakistan. While compensation is necessary, preventative measures such as maintenance and infrastructure improvements are crucial to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

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