As many as 694 damaged wagons occupying over four-fifths of the Chattogram Goods Port yard are hindering the operation of freight trains that transport goods from the port to various parts of Bangladesh.
These wagons, abandoned for over 40 years, occupy 85 percent of the yard. As a result, 26 turning lines cannot function, causing delays in the movement of goods and oil carrying tank cars.
Many container laden trains, oil tank cars, trains carrying food grain, fertiliser, stones, special trains of the Bangladesh Army, and shuttle trains leave for different parts of the country from the yard.
While visiting the yard, The Business Standard found crippled wagons scattered on the rail tracks. Some of the wagons are rusted, covered with bushes and creepers, making the area scary to venture into even during the day.
Seeking anonymity, a yard track repairer said drug addicts assemble in the wagons at night. He said many other antisocial activities take place here, all of which are an open secret.
As the crippled wagons occupy the turning lines, yard-bound trains have to wait for hours at Faujdarhat Railway Station to enter the yard.
On November 13 this year, the Railway Port Area Operation Management Authority sent a letter to the manager of the Chattogram division of the Bangladesh Railway, requesting them to open the blocked running tracks and shunting tracks by removing the crippled wagons.
The letter, signed by the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) Secretary Omar Faruk, reads there are six tracks for entering the yard. Of those, five tracks are blocked with condemned rolling stock. Among them, up shunting track 1 to 11 and down shunting track 1 to 15, around 694 condemned and RRC (Recommendation for Condemn) rolling stocks have been kept scattered for many years.
As a result, the shunting activities (for proper movement of trains) of the yard are being severely hampered.
The letter also says inadequate electricity supply during the night at the yard hampers the regular activities. The power supply authority has been requested to provide electricity so that shunting activities can be performed at night.
Abdul Malek, chief yard master of the Chattogram Goods Port, said, "Due to crippled wagons, 85 percent of the space of the yard is occupied. All the 26 turning lines are blocked. As a result, train movement and other operational activities are being hampered. It is not possible to maintain the schedule of trains. If the yard was fully functional we could operate more trains."
Farid Ahmed, equipment control engineer at Bangladesh Railway, Chattogram, said, "Very soon, a tender will be invited for removing the crippled wagons."
Director General (East Zone) of Bangladesh Railway Nasir Uddin Ahmed said, after the tender process is completed, steps will be taken to remove the crippled wagons quickly.