Morwa Simulation Exercise
On July 13 2018, a BD 339 class locomotive pulling fuel tankers collided with a mini bus carrying passengers at a level crossing in Morwa village causing fatalities, an explosion fuel spillage, and a raging fire. A thick black cloud hovered around the accident scene as all response teams were on high alert and sticking to their tasks in rescue efforts. Fire fighters battled to dowse the fire and blanketed the spilling fuel with foam, while medical rescue teams evacuated the injured.
Hold your breath, this was all part of a simulation exercise, at Morwa Village level crossing which is aimed at determining the preparedness of Railway Safety functions of our emergency groups, both internal and external, when faced with such incidents. The purpose of the exercise was to identify gaps, see coordination of all the teams and map a way forward in improving performance.
The event was attended by the Kgatleng leadership, Deputy Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, BR Board Chair, BR Management and staff and the Morwa - Pilane community among others.
Botswana Railways classifies level crossings as high-risk areas and the organization has tried to reduce this risk by installing boom gates in some level crossings and rail-road safety signs to alert the road users so as to avert accidents. However, we still experience collisions on some of these level crossings as drivers tend to manoeuvre around closed boom gates. Furthermore, the Government of Botswana through the Ministry of Transport and Communications has invested heavily on some measures like speed humps and rumble strips upon approaching level crossings so as to encourage drivers to slow down.
Although this year we have recorded a decrease in numbers of level crossing accidents as compared to the previous year, we still consider it paramount that as stakeholders from time to time we should come up with initiatives such as this simulation exercise to educate and sensitise the general public and road users of the potential dangers at level crossings, if one fails to obey the road signs. It is only through collective efforts and collaboration that we can make great strides in addressing railroad level crossing accidents.