Botswana: Train Crews Not Aware of Speed Restrictions Memo

Mahalapye — The Botswana Railways (BR) engine-men and trainmen, who were on duty around the time of the train accident, say they are not aware that BR Civil Engineering Department issued a communication imposing speed restrictions and reductions during rainy period.

The two trainmen, Mr Lesego Mosimanyana and Mr Tebogo Pitso, as well as three engine-men, Mr Dikabelo Nawa (retired December 2019), Mr Tirelo Mogale and Mr Peter Mokokwe (retired December 2019) said recently when giving testimonies during the ongoing public hearing on the derailment of the train at Cresta Hotel, in Mahalapye.

They all stated that the only speed restriction they were aware of, was for during the day and when there was a heatwave.

The men told the hearing that they would have seen and read the communication, if it was displayed on the noticeboard, since it was common practice for train crews, to go through notice boards before assignments. A communication that was written on December 4, 2019, was read to the witnesses during the public hearing by one board member, Mr Gofaone Morweng.

It requested the BR Operations Department to reduce train running speeds on the lines on days and nights when there was heavy rainfall.

"The speed should be reduced to 40 kilometres per hour during the day or at night when it is raining. On instances where train crews find water covering the railway track, the train crew are instructed to bring the train to a complete stop and assess if it is safe and whether balance within the rest of the track is intact before running through the flood water," states the communication.

In the communication, BR Civil Engineering Department made reference to the statement that was issued by the Department of Meteorological Services on heavy rains that were forecast from December 4 to 6, 2019. In the statement, the Department of Meteorological Services had warned that the heavy rains might lead to possible flooding and destruction of property in some areas.

The eight-member board of enquiry was appointed by Transport and Communications minister, Mr Thulagano Segokgo, to investigate circumstances leading to the derailment of BR passenger train 0501/ BD549 in accordance with Section 10 of the Railways (Accident Inquiry) Act.

Two BR crew members died during the accident that occured between Pallaroad and Bonwapitse River, after the BR passenger train derailed on December 10, 2019.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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