Khost workers hard hit by unemployment
KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Workers in southeastern Khost, voicing their concern over increasing joblessness, have urged the national unity government to take effective steps to address the problem on a priority basis.
Hundreds of daily wagers assemble every morning in front of the Yaqubi bus terminal in Khost City, hoping to get work. Holding their clothing and tools in plastic bags, they look at each passing vehicle and individual on foot.
However, the absence of work opportunities has left them disappointed. They say bringing and carrying back home the instruments is a tiresome exercise. One of the frustrated workers from Matoon area, Hashim Khan, said he had been unable to find work over the past week.
Khan told Pajhwok Afghan News he sat in scorching heat daily until noon in hope of getting manual work. He grumbled the number of workers waiting for customers rose by the day, and so did unemployment.
While hitting out at the government for paying no heed to their plight, the daily-wager said: “I have been coming here for the past one week in quest of job, but all opportunities have dried up. If at all I find work, my daily wages amount to Rs400-500.”
Another resident of Khost said he managed to get work twice or thrice a week, causing him financial woes. Niaz Mir griped most of the time he had to stand in sweltering heat. If a customer comes to the area, he is instantly swarmed by dozens of labourers.
Malakuddin, belonging to neighbouring Paktia province, has a similar exasperating story to tell: Forced from home by unemployment, he has been scrambling for labour even in Khost. “It is very often that we stand at the side of the road. We request the government to mitigate our predicament by giving us jobs.”
His colleague from the Musakhel district of Khost, Abdullah, accused the Ashraf Ghani administration of failing to deal with the unemployment challenge. “We voted for the president because we had high expectations of him. But all projects have come to a standstill ever since his inauguration.”
Civil society activist Mohammad Zaman Nazari believed problems in the composition of the unity government had created a crisis, including unemployment. “Apart from peace and reconciliation, the people expect their government will do all it can to generate jobs.”
Dr. Liaqat Adil, head of the All Afghanistan Federation of Trade Unions, confirmed the recent surge in unemployment. He demanded of the government to pay greater attention to the welfare of workers. He argued jobless youth tended to swell the ranks of militants.
Despite hectic efforts, Pajhwok could not ascertain the Khost Department of Work and Social Affairs’ viewpoint on the issue. But the governor’s spokesman called joblessness a nationwide problem.
Mubarez Zadran argued the arrival of people from other provinces, as well as the presence of tribesmen from Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region, in Khost was a key factor behind increasing unemployment.
“Khost itself has a big population. Labourers from several other provinces also come here. Additionally, there are many unemployed you among migrants from North Waziristan,” the gubernatorial spokesman remarked.
He urged the central government to implement major reconstruction projects in Khost to resolve the problem. Government figures show there are 12 million Afghans eligible for work, but four million of them are without jobs.
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