Baghlan truckers rally against bribery
PUL-I-KHUMRI (PAN): Truck drivers on Monday staged a protest demonstration against extortions by private armed militias and Afghan Local Police (ALP) personnel in northern Baghlan province.
About 200 truck drivers took part in the protest in Pul-i-Khumri, the provincial capital, accusing mines department officials of demanding bribes from them. They warned of permanently parking their vehicles if their problem was not resolved.
Mohammad Asif Aziz, the truckers’ association head, told Pajhwok Afghan News illegal armed men had been charging each driver 300 afghanis over the past four years in Qul Ahan Dara area, five kilometers from Pul-i-Khumri.
He said the mines department had established a number of checkpoints asking drivers to pay unknown taxes. “Drivers cannot save money from their earnings in such a situation,” the truckers’ leader said.
“If the government and the mines department spend this money on repairing or asphalting roads, then it is ok,” he agreed, but warned of continued strike if their money was meant for something else.
Mohammadullah, a truck driver who was recently forced by illegal armed men to pay money, said he was beaten and one of his colleagues kidnapped by the gunmen. “My colleague was released after his relatives paid 400,000 afghanis to captors.”
Another driver, Abdur Rahim, said ALP members also forcibly took 200 afghanis from each driver. “I have several times complained to the officials concerned, but to no avail,” he said.
Acting Baghlan Governor Abdul Qadim said security forces had several times been sent to areas where truck drivers said they paid money to illegal armed men. He said police had been given a plan on how to bring those involved in the illegal activity to justice.
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