Management of accident prone Botswana Railways (BR) is living on borrowed time after a Commission of Inquiry, which has been investigating the train accident which claimed two lives in December 2019, recommended a total overhaul and reorganization of the team, especially Safety & Health, and Engineering departments.
The Commissioners have submitted a report regarding to Minister of Transport and Communications, Thulaganyo Segokgo. Information gathered by The Patriot on Sunday has revealed that one of the main findings of the report is that there is incompetence and sheer negligence at the Mahalapye headquartered rail company. In a press briefing on Monday, Segokgo confirmed that he has received the report and will soon table it before cabinet for recommendations and way forward. According to Segokgo, the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown has been the main reason for delays in addressing issues raised in the report.
At the centre of the report is the issue of safety of the trains, which has been neglected for over 40 years while calls for the issue to be addressed have been ignored by the Botswana Railways management.
The Commission has established that the train crew was not provided with provided with safety equipment like two way radios, air brake gauges and telemeters. It was also discovered that Botswana Railways management and Board sat on a recommendations calling for the reconstruction of the rail line on the flood prone areas especially the small culverts.
Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja has indicated during the public hearings that they will start their own internal investigations on the cause of the accident. He admitted that the issue of health and safety is of great concern to the state owned rail company and they are addressing them. The other concern for the BR boss is that most senior management positions are held on acting basis, something that doesn’t sit well with him.
In the wee hours of December 10, 2019, the nation was woken to the horrific news that a passenger train derailed between Pallaroad and Mahalapye near Bonwapitse river claiming the lives of two of its crew members, a locomotive driver and a rail inspector.