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Truckers face double whammy on Farah-Herat road



Truckers face double whammy on Farah-Herat road

Nov 19, 2018 - 19:35

FARAH CITY (Pajhwok): Truck drivers in western Farah province complain they are facing double whammy of paying money to both police and Talibaninfo-icon militants on the Farah-Herat highway.

They say taking illegal money from truck drivers at security checkpoints on the highway has long been ongoing, but the Taliban have also recently started demanding money from the drivers in Farah Rod Bazaar area and Bala Bolok district of the province.

The area where the Taliban take money from truck drivers is just a kilometer away from the police headquarters of Bala Bolok district.

Mohammad, one of the drivers on the Farah-Herat highway, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the Taliban charged money as tax on trucks moving from Kabulinfo-icon, Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, Nimroz, Helmand and Farah provinces to Herat province and vice versa and the insurgents give drivers receipts after taking the money.

A table received by Pajhwok shows the Taliban charge each driver 10,000 afghanis to 45,000 afghanis as tax.

Mohammad said he was transferring electronic goods and food items from Herat to Farah province when the Taliban stopped him in Bala Bolok district and charged him 35,000 afghanis.

He said the Taliban gave him a tax paper based on which the money should be paid by the owner of the goods.

“We work all the day to earn some money which is taken from us at force by the Taliban and the government,” Mohammad added.

He said all goods transports to Herat through the highway were already taxed by the government in customs offices.

Another driver on the route, who wished anonymity, agreed with Mohammad’s account and said hundreds of trucks daily plied highway. He said that Taliban and police took a large amount of money from cargo trucks on the route.

‘Few days ago when I was transporting a truck of rice from Kandahar to Herat province, the Taliban took 16,000 afghanis as tax from me in Farah Rod Bazaar,” he said.

“If a driver refuses to pay that money or does not have enough money for paying, the Taliban stop his truck and park it a kilometer away from the highway until the amount is paid,” he added.

The Taliban receive hundreds of thousands afghanis from cargo trucks every day, the driver said, asking the government to stop the illegal practice.

Haji Khair Mohammad Nawrozi, a member of the provincial council of Farah, confirmed money extortion from drivers by police on the Farah-Herat highway and asked security organs to take action.

He said money extortion by police would further widen the gap between the government and the people.

Haji Askar Gumnam, head of Farah Chamber of Commerce and Industries also confirmed police and Taliban took money from drivers on the highway and said, “Our traders pay taxes to the government when their goods enter the country, it is a matter of concern the Taliban also charge tax on them.”

He said charging traders under different excuses would lead to capital and businesspeople flight from the country.

“More taxes mean more burden on the ordinary people because traders increase prices to balance their business”, he said.

Nazir Poya, an economist, also said double taxation as well as police extortion would in fact affect consumers and the public in general.

 “The money the Taliban take from traders as tax and police extort them is charged from the ordinary people at the end, it is injustice with the people,” he said.

He asked the government and the Taliban to consider people’s interest while implementing their own policies.

Mohibullah Mohbi, Farah police spokesman, about police extortions on the Farah-Heart highway, said, “We agree some police checkpoints take money from truckers on the highway, but this problem has somehow been handled and would be taken seriously once security on the route is ensured.”

He said the police headquarters had developed an effective program for putting an end to the extortion culture based on which police taking money from truck drivers would be punished or fined. This program would be implemented in near future.

According to a Pajhwok report in October 2017, truck drivers complained about illegal extortions in Farah and figures showed drivers paid a total of around five million afghanis to police and Taliban every day.

At that Farah police officials had also said they had decided to stop illegal extortions by police, but the process continued.

Mohib confirmed the Taliban charged money on commercial goods in Farah but said more information on the issue should be obtained from the Farah governor.

However, governor’s spokesman, NaserMehri, said, “You should take information about this from police.”

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, confirmed they taxed commercial goods in Farah Rod Bazaar.

“More than a half of the country’s territory is under Taliban control, the money charged on people is used for ensuring security of the highways and areas under the Taliban,” he said.

The Taliban have been taxing commercial goods entering Farah province through Abu Nasr Farahi port to the country since a year.



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