By Duncan Mlanjira
People have been stunned by a video clip that captures two women in Liwonde who raced to cross a railway line in an attempt to outpace an oncoming high speed train and escaped been hit by a whisker.
They attempted their feat even though the locomotive driver loudly hooted, warning them not to try the suicidal feat but luck was on their side — as the two women crossed over the speeding train whizzed by missing them by a step.
A bicycle taxi (kabaza) operator was standing by with his total attention towards the oncoming train and as soon as he saw the two daredevils’ intention, he reacted by pushing his bike even further away fearing the worst.
These are Vale Logistics trains that carry coal from Moatize in Mozambique and into Malawi through Mwanza, Balaka, Machinga all the way to the border where they continue to offload at Nacala, back in Mozambique.
The trains are over a kilometer long of over 120 wagons. They have four powerful locomotives — two in front and two in the middle and they are fast.
In his reaction, Chris-Tofa Kapanga was astounded by the very close call, saying: “This is a wake up call for the authorities to build a flyover walkway and fence off the rail line so it is off limits for pedestrians.”
When put it to him that Central and East Africa Railways (CEAR) spokesperson Chisomo Mwamadi disclosed that there is a provision of flyover, Kapanga insisted: “Fence it off so they have no option other than the flyover.”
This is a very busy international railway line and Mwamadi said they will engage the community officials to assess if the spot where the shocking incident happened needs a flyover.
Others said probably these women and others are just being negligent because they were lazy to access the flyover and since the train was stopping at the station it meant they had to circumvent it for a long distance.
The best they could do was to try and outpace it and according to the railways’ byelaws this attempt is illegal.
Collins Stanley Chisi suggested that civic education is needed for communities along the railway line and this is exactly what CEAR keeps doing by broadcasting awareness messages in the media, sensitising members of the public living along the railway lines never to walk along them and to always make sure no trains are coming before crossing the rail.
Motorists are also asked to always first stop at any level crossing that has not warning lights to assess if no train is coming before proceeding.
These coal carrying trains are always a spectacle when they pass by and that’s probably why the two daredevils were caught on camera because at first the cameraman was concentrating on the oncoming train and then shifted to what the women were attempting to do.
In his comment, Joseph Chisala simply said: “Whoever was on the scene to capture the near miss is a star performer.”