Mahalapye — Botswana Railways (BR) learner driver Ms Doreen Motsewetsho, who was driving train 0501 when it derailed last December killing two employees, had been rostered together with engineman Mr Solomon Mookodi.
BR traffic officer, stationed in Lobatse, Mr Goitsebeng Setsogo was explaining to the board of enquiry into the accident how a leaner driver ended up working passenger train 0501 that derailed between Pallaroad and Bonwapitse River, instead of Mr Mookodi.
He said both were rostered to work the north-bound BR passenger train 0501 on December 9, 2019 but Ms Motsewetsho was the first to be rostered.
"We had rostered two people then, to ensure that the train will run even if the instructor, Mr David Seima, who was to take the leaner driver for test, could, for whatever reason, be unable to do so.
We had rostered Mr Mookodi who would usually administer that train from rest. So, we had kept him there to ensure that it will run. So, Mr Mookodi was on standby for that train," he said.
He said Mr Mookodi reported for duty the day before the accident as he was scheduled to work passenger train 0501 but was informed on arrival that he would not be working as Mr Seima had confirmed he was available to take the leaner driver for testing.
Mr Setsogo explained that he in turn informed BR station foreman, Mr Patrick Moseki, about the arrangement.
"We would not go and disturb Mr Mookodi, while he was on his red rest. We would wait for him to come and tell him what transpired.
That is why he got that knowledge last minute.
While they are on rest, we do not disturb them until they come for their rightful train. But, at the same time, he knew that, if there was any leaner to be passed out with that train, he would give way," he said.
Another witness, BR Lobatse station foreman, Mr Patrick Moseki confirmed that Mr Mookodi and Ms Motsewetsho were both rostered to work passenger train 0501 on December 9.
However, he said Mr Setsogo informed him it would be best to remove Mr Mookodi from the roster and re-schedule him because Mr Seima was going to take a leaner driver for testing on the same train.
"I removed Mr Mookodi from the roster and I then advised him of his next turn of duty," he said.
Mr Moseki further explained that for enginemen to work trains, they were required to have had a 12-hour rest.
He confirmed that Mr Mookodi had rested enough for duty as he had been on rest the previous two days.
However, he could not confirm or deny if Ms Motsewetsho had rested enough for the train, saying "there is no one who can be rostered for a train and may be required to work that train before 12-hours rest".
The train derailed on December 10 last year, killing two BR employees while about 400 passengers were safely evacuated.
Source : BOPA