MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Provincial council members, tribal elders and civil society militants of extorting millions of afghanis from lorries on a daily basis on the Mazar-Dara-i-Suf highway.
Gathering at the Balkh provincial council hall, the participants from northern Samangan and Balkh provinces complained about kidnapping incidents on the highway.
Haji Raz Mohammad, Samangan provincial council chairman, told Pajhwok Afghan News that security had deteriorated on the highway between Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh and Dar-i-Suf district in neighbouring Samangan province.
He said security forces and Taliban militants both took money from trucks and coalmine vehicles on a daily basis.
He said, “Taliban take 4,000 afghanis per vehicle on the Mazar-i-Dar-Suf highway and security forces 1,500 per vehicle. There are many check-post who also illegally extort money from vehicles.”
He said the issue had been shared with several government institutions but so far no one paid attention. He said if the government did not address the issue, they with people support would make a decision in this regard.
Mohammad Amin Dara-i-Sufi, a Balkh provincial council member, told Pajhwok that security incidents had increased on the Mazar-Dara-i-Suf highway.
He said security forces retreated from their check-posts on the highway without putting up any resistance to Taliban militants. He said Mazar-Dara-i-Suf highway provided a great opportunity to money extortion from vehicles.
He called on Balkh and Samangan security forces to take measures for security of the Mazar-Dara-i-Suf highway.
Mohammad Yousuf, a driver on the Mazar-Dara-i-Suf highway, told Pajhwok that they had to pay money to both security forces and Talban militants on the highway.
He said Taliban militants collected more than three million afghanis from coal trucks on a daily basis and up to 10 million afghanis by security forces. He said sometime robbers also looted money from drivers.
Former Sar-i-Pul governor and resident of Balkh, Zahir Wahdat, who also joined the protest gathering, told Pajhwok that people were tired of insecurity, kidnapping and extortion on the Mazar-Dara-i-Suf highway. He urged security forces and Taliban not to bother pubic on highways.