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‘Taliban collect tax from truckers on Mazar-Shebrghan highway’

‘Taliban collect tax from truckers on Mazar-Shebrghan highway’

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Apr 23, 2019 - 16:56

MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Traders of northern Balkh province say Talibaninfo-icon militants charge tax on cargo trucks on Mazar-Shebrghan highway, an issue that increased goods prices in markets.

The traders criticized security organs for failing to ensure security on the highway despite several requests.

However, Munir Farhad, Balkh governor’s spokesman, rejected Taliban’s custom office on Mazar-Shebrghan highway.

Former provincial council head and trader, Zabihullah Kakar, told Pajhwok Afghan News that Taliban opened their own custom office in Zikzik area of Chaharbolak district and collect tax from cargo trucks.

He said that Mazar-Shebrghan highway Taliban charge each truck transporting fuel from Aqina and Andkhoi ports, 18,000 Afghanis as tax.

If any of the truckers refused to pay money to the Taliban, the insurgents would stop his truck and sell its fuel on other people, he said.

 Kakar said that Taliban take all the oil of trucks which have contracts of fuel supply with the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence and NATOinfo-icon forces.

The tax collection process by the Taliban on the highway has empowered the insurgent group and that is the reason the war has intensified in the region, he said.

“If the government fails to improve security on the highway, traders have no way but have to pay tax to the Taliban which would then affect the public Afghans, because traders increase the prices on products in return of charges applying on them,” he said.

He said the Taliban collected millions of Afghanis on the highway on daily basis.

Taliban have warned traders their trucks would be set at blaze if they bypassed their custom office without paying tax, he said.

He asked security officials to take practical steps for solving the problem.

Mohammad Afzal Hadid, Balkh provincial council head, told Pajhowk that security problems were increased on Mazar-Shebrghan highway.

However, he was unaware about the Taliban’s custom office on the highway. He said that probably such problems existed on the highway, but no one has complained to the provincial council on the regard.

A fuel transporter, Shoaib (not a real name) talking to Pajhwok said that Taliban started collecting taxes from truckers on the highway about a month ago.

He said that he transported fuel from Aqina port to Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, twice a week and he was obligated to pay tax both to the government and the Taliban.

He said as many as 10 trucks were torched or seized by the Taliban over the last two months. Some of these trucks were transporting fuel to security organs but some were private who were not paying taxes to the insurgents, he added.

Shoaib said that hundreds of trucks were moving on the highway on daily basis and the Taliban charge all of them.

The Taliban’s custom office is mobile and it can be in different locations in different times, he said.

Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive manager, Nasir Ahmad Qasimi also said that commercial activities were affected in the region due to security problems on Mazar-Shebrghan highway.

He added in the past two months trucks related to businessmen have been stopped or burnet to ashes.

Qasimi, however, said they have not yet received a formal complaint regarding imposing duty by the Taliban.

He said businessmen often demanded security officials to provide them security on Mazar-i-Sharif-Shiberghan highway but they did not take effective steps in this regard.

According to Qasami, if the issue of insecurity on Mazar-Shiberghan highway not resolved it would have negative impact on business activities.

Governor spokesman Munir Farhad rejected the establishment of custom office by the Taliban on the outskirts of Chahar Bulak district.

He said the Taliban after sunset often appear on the highway, adding the group have no a fixed custom office in the area.

Farhad said the Taliban were not in a large number to come out on regular bases and extort trucks.

He said the Taliban one to two times stopped vehicles on the high which was faced with a strong reaction by security forces.

He said plan had been chalked out to create security check-points and military bases along the highway.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed to Pajhwok the group one percent tax from trucks loaded with foreign goods.

He added in response to tax collection, the Taliban provided security to the vehicles.

mds/nh 

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