Mayor accuses public reps of interference
PUL-I-KHUMRI (PAN): The mayor of Pul-i-Khumri, the capital of northern Baghlan province, has accused a number of Wolesi Jirga and provincial council members of meddling in municipality affairs. But the public representatives blame the mayor for employing pressure tactics.
Abdullah Haris, who took over as Pul-i-Khumri mayor two months ago, alleged shopkeepers and vendors had placed their goods on sidewalks and blocked water channels.
Speaking to Pajhwok Afghan News, he said over 500 handcart owners were illegally doing business in the city, frequently closing the road leading to the provincial civil hospital. Carpentry, shoemaking, coppersmith and other shops had been set up in the green belt, he charged.
After forming a body, including representatives from police headquarters, intelligence department, civil society, tribal elders and traffic, they were able to spruce up the city and shift vendors to a market.
But Wolesi Jirga and provincial council members were interfering in the affairs of the municipality, Haris said. “We have received phone calls from lawmakers, warning against disturbing shopkeepers and handcart owners.”
Ashiqullah Wafa and Dr. Faisal Sami were among the public representatives who asked the mayor over the telephone to let shopkeepers sell their goods on sidewalks, but he rejected the proposal.
The lawmakers allowed hawkers to resume their unlawful businesses, he said, adding the problem of congestion would persist and the development would continue to elude the city if interference continued.
But Wafa said a number of vendors and shopkeepers had complained to him about the harsh behaviour of the mayor. Being a public representative, he was duty-bound to address people’s problems, the legislator argued.
Provincial council member Dr. Faisal Sami assailed the mayor for attempting to destroy vacated shops and kiosks, without considering people’s problems.
The mayor had evicted people from their shops at gunpoint, an action that was unwarranted and intolerable, he remarked, saying: “I warn mayor of harsh action if he continues to torture shopkeepers through gunmen.”
For his part, Haris insisted municipality staff did not have guns and they asked police officers to help them remove illegal shops. He denied resorting to the use of force against people.
Several cart owners and peddlers complained municipality employees demanded bribes. Those refusing to grease their palms were prevented from selling goods, they alleged.
But the mayor promised offenders would be sacked and brought to justice if credible evidence was brought against them.
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