Thursday holiday extended for unknown period
KABUL (PAN): The Thursday holiday, brought in last year as a way to curtail Kabul's air pollution, was Wednesday once again extended for an unknown period, but people said the day off would not help reduce the pollution.
On Nov. 30 last year, the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) proposed Thursday as official holiday until March 21, the start of the new Afghan year. The day was later extended for three more months on March 15.
"Thursday will be a day off from June 22," a spokesman for the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, Ali Iftikhari, told Pajhwok Afghan News. However, he did not provide further details.
"On Thursdays, nearly 13,000 government vehicles would stay off the road. Even a single vehicle if stays off the road can considerably reduce air pollution," NEPA deputy head, Ghulam Mohammad Malakyar, said. He said the holiday had been beneficial in reducing pollution caused by fuel.
About 500,000 cars and others vehicles, excluding those with Afghan and foreign soldiers, have been registered with the traffic department, officials say. Nearly 50,000 cars and vehicles plyed Kabul roads on a daily basis.
"The Thursday holiday has also curtailed the spread of different diseases in the capital city," a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, Sakhi Kargar, said.
However, residents said air pollution had not been reduced. "Until old cars and use of low quality fuel is banned, air pollution cannot be reduced," taxi driver Mohammadullah said.
Last month, traffic department officials said cars produced until 1991 would not be allowed to play on roads in Kabul.
Abdul Hafiz, a resident in Deh Afghanan area, suggested that people of Kabul should grow trees in order to reduce air pollution.
The cabinet has not yet discussed declaring Thursday and Saturday as holidays, the labourer ministry spokesman, Ali Iftikhari, said.
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