The point where the village road crosses the rail lines at Dakshin Surma in Sylhet has no crossing bars nor a gateman to alert people and vehicles about approaching trains, posing risk of fatal accidents.
Not only this one, 167 out of 239 rail crossings in Sylhet division (on the Sylhet-Akhaura rail route) are in the same condition, according to the engineering department of the Bangladesh Railway's Sylhet division.
People risk their lives crossing these unauthorised crossings.
On 5 September, a microbus was hit by a train at a railway crossing in Kulaura of Moulvibazar, leaving two passengers killed and six members of the same family injured.
The rail crossing at which the accident took place is also unauthorised.
According to the rules of the Bangladesh Railway (BR), in order to build a road over the railway lines, a company or an authority has to construct gates on both sides of the crossing after taking permission from the BR.
Wages of at least three gatemen for 10 years have to be deposited also to the railway authorities. After final inspection of the spot by the railway engineering department officials, the crossing is approved.
However, this rule is not being obeyed in the construction of such roads in Sylhet division. Although the railway authorities have declared these roads unauthorised, they are not taking any initiative to stop the malpractice. With the increase of rural roads, such unprotected crossings are increasing day by day, causing regular accidents on the Sylhet-Akhaura rail route.
Railway authorities say that local people rebuild the roads with the intervention of influential people even if those unapproved roads are closed. As a result, it is not possible to shut these roads permanently.
During recent visits, a number of unauthorised rail crossings in Sylhet suburbs have been spotted with signboards saying, "Be careful, rail crossing in front", but there are no signalmen in any of these crossings.
According to the railway engineering department, out of 167 illegal rail crossings, 53 are in Sylhet district, 42 in Moulvibazar, 59 in Habiganj and 13 in Sunamganj.
An engineering department official said, "Process is underway to approve and appoint signalmen at some of the unauthorised rail crossings which we think are important."
"There are so many gates that we closed," he said. But with the intervention of local people's representatives and influential people, the locals have rebuilt them.
Monir Hossain, station master of Maizgaon railway station in Fenchuganj, said, "There are six crossings between Fenchuganj and Maizgaon. Only two of the rail crossings are approved. Between Fenchuganj and Bhatera union, there are scores of rail crossings. It is being used as a crossing wherever rural roads have joined railways."
Sylhet Railway Station Manager Md Khalilur Rahman said rail crossings are being constructed everywhere as there are roads around the railway line. Accidents often happen due to making crossings without permission.