Cabbies rally against traffic officials
KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): Taxi drivers on Sunday staged a protest in front of the transport department in southern Kandahar province, alleging traffic police ill-treated them.
The demonstrators accused traffic police officials of forcing them into paying bribes, insulting them and smashing windscreens of their vehicles if they refused to pay illegal gratifications.
They alleged the provincial traffic department head tacitly encouraged unlawful actions of his subordinates, calling for his removal.
One of the protestors, Aslam, told Pajhwok Afghan News as he stopped to pick up passengers near Eidgah two days ago, a traffic official broke his car’s glass. The official, who allegedly used abusive language, also tried to hit him, but onlookers intervened.
Another protestor, Nasim, narrated a similar story, saying his taxi had been confiscated by traffic police. His car was impounded after he dropped a female commuter at the side of a road.
He argued traffic police had jurisdiction over public roads, but they had no right to abuse drivers, smash glasses and prick tyres of their vehicles.
A member of the Taxi Drivers Union, Mohammad Daud, accused traffic personnel of forcing cabbies into paying bribes. Several drivers refusing to meet their unlawful demand had been beaten and insulted, he alleged.
He said a large number of illegal and unregistered vehicles moved freely in the city, but traffic police would not take any action against them. He asked the government to resolve the problem and prevent traffic police highhandedness.
But a traffic department official, Col. Mohammadullah Khan, claimed the protest came after a crackdown on illegal taxis. He said protesting drivers should lodge complaints with the department against the officials who had insulted them or damaged their cars.
The provincial transport department head, Najibullah Ahmadi, confirmed the ill-treatment of taxi drivers by traffic officials, saying the issue had been repeatedly taken up with the authorities concerned.
According to the transport department, 4,500 taxis ply roads in Kandahar City.
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