Railway unions today said that if the recommendations made by previous committees on train accidents and derailments were implemented the train collision in Alawwa which killed three people could have been prevented.
The All Ceylon Railway Workers Union President S. P. Withanage said there should be an impartial investigation on the collision and recommendations made by the committee that was recently appointed by Transport Minister Kumara Welgama, should be implemented once the report is submitted to the minister.
The Organisation for the Protection of the Properties and the Rights of Railway Employees union said the transport authorities that imported the power sets and train engines that are currently in use should be held accountable for the recent Alawwa train collision that killed three people.
The Organisation for the Protection of the Properties and the Rights of Railway Employees union Spokesman Sumathipala Manawadu said despite continued protests by the railway department, the authorities had imported low fibre power sets and other machinery that are not suitable for use in Sri Lanka. He said this was the reason for the collision although the authorities continued to blame the railway driver, who was a talented driver with years of experience.
“There had been a series of train accidents in the recent past due to the irresponsible importation of these items. The authorities spend millions of rupees of the tax payers’ money to import these items most of which are not suitable for use. The railway workers and passengers have to pay with their lives for their mistakes,” Manawadu said.
He said the Railway Department had objected to the importation of Indian S11 power sets but the authorities went ahead with the importation despite the department’s objections. “We objected to this even when the power sets arrived at the port but could not stop the process as there was some kind of political backing which allowed the transaction,” he said.
The Railway Technicians Association General Secretary M. A. Ratnasiri said the transport authorities had recently imported ten M9 engines from France worth Rs.170 million each. He said they were not suitable for use on railway tracks in Sri Lanka as the engines were too heavy. “The Railway Department engineers protested against the importation of these engines but their protests fell on deaf ears. Due to these irresponsible decisions there has been wastage of funds which could have been used more responsibly,” he said. (Olindhi Jayasundere)