Police accused of seeking bribes to let construction works go ahead
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Many residents of southern Kandahar province allege police officers are extorting money from them in return for new construction works in violation of the municipality’s policy.
They claim police and municipality officers were taking money illegally from owners of under-construction buildings in Kandahar City -- the provincial capital -- on different pretexts.
However, municipality officials say they have created a Property Commission to planthe construction process and encourage people to coordinatetheir projects with the panel.
They said that people themselves were responsible for paying illegal money to police officers, because they willingly chose to make illegal constructions.
Abdul Bari (39), a resident of the ninth police district, told Pajhwok Afghan News police officers were harassing him over the construction of a fence on the second portion of his house.
He complained police were teasing him, although constructing the fence was nothing unlawful. Police did so for several days and they even took away tools to prevent the fence being installed, he continued.
“Later, police officers asked me to pay them 5,000 afghanis. They told me I cannot install the fence until I pay them the money. I was obliged to do so to finish my work,” he maintained.
Bari was told to complete his work within days; otherwise his task would be stoppedagain. Police did so in order to hide their illegal extortion, he said.
A resident of Choni area, who wished not to be named, blamed police and municipality officers for receiving backhander from him to allow the launch of work on a building.
He was building shops besides his home but was prevented despite the fact he had all legal documents.“Both police and district officials harassed me until I paid them 10,000 afghanis each.”
But Ezzatullah, an inhabitant of Kabul Darwaza area, said he had complied with municipality rules and did not face any problems during his recent construction work.He took documents to the commission concerned that let him construct a market on his land.
“I did not bribe anyone because I met the legal procedures,” he remarked, believing those paying money to police or anyone else were definitely involved in some kind of illegality.”
Police and district officers used illegal constructions as an opportunity to take money from people, Ezatullah said. Municipality officials held the same view but said police officers somehow encouraged illegal constructions to make money.
Zmaray Sargand, the municipality spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News under a master plan, supervising constructionworks in all parts of Kandahar City was the domain of the municipality.
He said that a Property Commission had been created to support implementation of the master plan. The panel is supposed to approve construction plans before they are implemented.
Unfortunately, most of the people avoid approaching the commission but pay illegal gratifications to police and district officers to let them construct their buildings illegally.
If people adhered to building laws, no one would ask them for bribes, he argued, recalling the municipality had already informed the public that none of its officials was authorised to fleece the masses.
A statement from the municipality promised sometime back to provide assistance if anyone faced problems in the construction process. It said added all organs had been warned against takingbribes from building owners.
Samim Khpalwak, the governor’s spokesman, admitted most buildings in Kandahar City had been constructed in violation of rules, creating problems for the municipality and the general public.
He said the municipality tried to prevent illegal construction in cooperation with security organs. Police officers who misuse the opportunity and take money from people have been punished by their headquarters.
Kandahar police spokesman, Zia Durrani, said police were responsible for the enforcement of law and if they violated the law they would be brought to justice.
Urban development expertMohammad Ajmal acknowledged the newly appointed mayor had done a lot to control construction affairs in Kandahar City.
He claimed several residential buildings, markets, shops and other structures had been constructed illegally in recent years.Illegal and unplanned constructions could be prevented when the process was closely monitored, he argued.
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