HERAT CITY (Pajhwok): Food offered to policemen and officers of different ranks in 24 hours in western Herat province is not according to the list based on their ration allowance, Pajhwok Afghan News has learned reliably.
Photos, videos and other documents of daily food offered to police show the meal is not according to the general list, which is prepared on the basis of ration allowance, with the bulk of embezzlement taking place in the amount allocated for rice and meat in food allowance of every policeman.
According to the Ministry of Interior (MoI) directives and comments from Herat Police Headquarters, the daily meal allowance of a policeman and officer is 135afs or 4,165 afs a month.
The meal allowance table for solar months — Asad and Sunbola — shows 508afs is allocated for the purchase of rice for one police personnel for one month, 117afs for the purchase of sheep’s meat for 19 days, 705afs for chicken meat for 12 days, 644afs for the purchase of bread for one month and 1,211 afs for the purchase of eggs, potato, okra, tomatoes, tomato paste, cooking oil, onion, melon, green tea, dried milk, salt and spices.
But Pajhwok Afghan News findings show a small amount from the 4,185afs food allowance of a policeman is spent on preparing food while the remaining amount is embezzled.
The meal list shows that 507afs is allocated for purchase of high quality rice (Brenj Selah) for one policeman but Pajhwok found that policemen are served low quality rice (Brinj Parmal) for years. There is a huge difference in the price of high quality and low quality rice.
A 25-kilogram bag of low quality rice (BrinjParmal) is purchased for 800 afs to 900 afs in Herat markets while the same quantity of high quality rice (Brinj Selah) is accounted for over 2,000 afs.
By replacing high quality rice with low quality in the meal menu, at least 250afs is embezzled monthly in the rice purchase alone from one policeman.
According to Herat police officials, the number of police personnel serving in the province is around 4,000 and if 250afs is deducted from the food allowance of every policeman, the total monthly embezzlement reaches around one million afghanis.
According to information obtained in interviews with police personnel in different police stations, it was learned that every policeman is served meat five or six times a month while in the meal list the meat is offered for 19 days in a month, costing 1,117afs for every policeman.
A well-placed source said meat offered to police in their food five or six days a month was of very low quality and was not eatable. The source said mostly chicken meat was served instead of sheep’s meat and this way half of the 1,117afs allowance for the purchase of meat is embezzled.
As per the total number of police in Herat and taking into account the amount deducted from the purchase of meat, at least two million afs embezzlement takes place in the meat purchase monthly.
Officers of police stations concerned about meal allowance embezzlement
Saeed Ahmad — not a real name — a high ranking police officer from one of the police stations in Herat, said the MoI had selected high quality of rice (BrinjSela) for them in their meal but they were offered low quality (BrinjiParmal). He said the rice offered to them produced a rotten smell and was uneatable.
He said from the past one year, the low quality rice was offered to policemen who often fall ill after eating it.
He said the low quality rice was offered in the name of local product and all food storages were filled with the same rice. “The rice produces a bad smell and no one could go close to the dish in which it is cooked,” he said.
Video of a policeman complaining about the low quality rice ……
Saeed Ahmad said the food allowance was not spent fully and more than half of it was embezzled by the authorities concerned.
He said in the food menu, mutton should be served to police for 19 days in a month but a majority of police were not offered it.
The officer accused the head of the food allowance department of embezzlement and said this man had been arrested over corruption charges last year but was again appointed to the same position.
Abdul Ghani, not a real name, is another high ranking police officer, who said the MoI had recommended high quality food in the contract. “But when it comes to the purchase and distribution of food, the worst quality is offered to policemen.”
He said: “When sheep’s meat is transferred to the Police Headquarters, it is not healthy and sometimes worms lurked in it and produces a bad smell.”
Syed Walli, not a real name, is another police officer in Heart, who said he was also concerned over the provision of low quality food to police, something ongoing for years.
He claimed when policemen returned from an operation or patrol, their food was stored in freezer and offered to them the next day as fresh food.
Second video clip of baked okra for police …….
Samiullah — not a real name — a policeman, is also concerned regarding the low quality of food offered to them.
He said there was a huge difference in food offered in the Police Headquarters and the one served in a police station.
He said sheep’s meat was not served to them for weeks and sometimes they were offered chicken meat and rice of a very low quality.
Besides these problems and embezzlement in food allowance, there are also problems in provision of police uniform and garments.
Some policemen told Pajhwok Afghan News that no uniform was distributed to them over the past two years while police should get new uniform twice a year.
They said policemen were even forced to purchase new uniform from the market or take it from other security units.
Old mattresses, pillows and sleepwear in police units could not be changed during the past few years.
Embezzlement, low quality food hampers police morale
Mehdi Hadid, a member of the Herat Provincial Council, acknowledged receiving a lot of verbal complaints from policemen regarding corruption in food and kit-allowances and low quality of food.
Military experts in Herat also believed that embezzlement in food allowance of police and offering them low quality food hampered their morale and caused disappointment.
Shoiab Khan Faghim, a military affairs expert in Herat, said that police did not get food according to the list which was prepared on the basis of their food allowance.
He stressed that corruption in the police department was rampant but the government paid no attention to the situation.
According to Fahim, General Director of Logistics, his civilian assistant, food allowance head and in charge of kitchens in Police Headquarters of different provinces, specially in Herat used funds for the purchase of low quality items and embezzled food allowances of security personnel.
Syed Ashraf Sadaat, a civil society activist, termed corruption in food allowance fund of police a huge challenge in Herat and said recently photographs and footage of embezzlement in food and logistics supply of police were shocking but the government and the MoI was yet to take action to eradicate or reduce corruption.
Every year, the MoI allocates large sums of money to Afghan security forces from international funding, but due to widespread corruption in security institutions, especially in police, half of the money went to contractors, logistics officers, food managers and some other officials.
Sadaat said fighting corruption in police was difficult because their high ranking officer were involved.
Abdul Qader, a university student, said: “I had gone to the police headquarters several times for passport and other things, believe me most of the police officers are deeply involved in corruption.”
Response from officials in connection to these complaints
A Pajhwok reporter reached the Police Headquarters to question the authorities regarding complaints supported by documents and other materials about corruption in police ration allowance.
The deputy police chief was asked for an interview, but he declined to talk.
But Herat Police Spokesperson Abdul Ahad Walizada said food allowance of a policeman in 24 hours was 135 afs a day or 4,185 a month.
He said the food allowance amount varied during the year and was handed over to the contractor by the MoI and the contract holder was responsible for food distribution to police personnel.
The police food allowance contract is being handled by the Interior Ministry’s Procurement Department, and Herat police officials are not in direct contact with the contractor and do not know who the contractor is.
Herat police spokesman acknowledged poor quality of food was served to security forces and said that according to the contract, the contractor must provide best food to police, but in some cases, this was not the case and they did not prepare and distribute first-class food.
He emphasized that there was an inspection committee in the police headquarters and every day the food distributed by the contractor was checked and if the food was of poor quality, it was returned He, however, rejected the distribution of overnight food to police.
MoI Spokesperson Tariq Aryan also declined to comment in this regard after several attempts by Pajhwok reporter to have his comment in this regard.
However, Jilani Farhad, the spokesman for the governor of Herat, said it was the responsibility of police officials to investigate corruption in police food allowance, and that the local government would seriously investigate any evidence of corruption in police food allowance.
This report has been produced by Pajhwok and financially supported by UNDP and Denmark.