KABUL (Pajhwok): Claims made by the residents of southeastern Paktia province and documents available with Pajhwok Afghan News show millions of afghanis corruption in the province’s municipality contracts.
In connection with some rehabilitation projects the municipality had launched on its own and diversion of some roads from their original position are something about which the provincial Urban Affairs and Land Department has dispatched formal letters to the municipality and termed it a corrupt practice, but in response the municipality said it was due to lack of capacity of human resources.
The residents of Gardez also say they are unhappy with operational activities of the municipality and claim the department never spent funds to provide best services to the masses.
Some residents and civil society activists today (Thursday) told reporters that massive corruption was ongoing in contracts of Gardez Municipality.
In addition, they alleged illegal rehabilitation activities had taken place and green areas had been distributed to people as plots.
Syed Jan, a shopkeeper in Gardez City, said he paid municipality for cleanliness service and his shop license but no difference was brought to the city’s outlook.
“License costs 1500 afs, the municipality charges cleanliness tax but there is no service where they spent such a huge amount,” he said.
Civil society activist HabibAlikhel said as a result of massive corruption in Gardez Municipality the youth had decided to take step and launch widespread protests.
“The center is also calm, a delegation coming here for probe takes money and goes back,” he added.
Former Paktia Governor Advisor Atta Mohammad Feroz acknowledged massive corruption in Municipality Affairs and said the employees of municipality took money from people and allowed them to construct markets. He, however, did not provide documents to support his claim.
He claimed in Teri Township, new plots had been distributed against the master plan of the township and in some green areas, markets were constructed.
Another civil society activist Dr. YousufAhmadzai alleged that Municipality did not fully construct some internal roads instead they worked on certain spots or left them in the middle.
JummaGul Afghan, the Paktia High Youth Council member, said massive corruption had been committed in construction of a 4.8-kilometre road from Paktia University to the city centre in which millions of afghani had been embezzled.
The contract of this road had been inked against around 98 million afghanis, but the owners of some companies during talks with Pajhwok said they were ready to construct the road at lower or even half of the given price.
According to the documents, the road is nine-metre wide. The previous asphalt had deteriorated and was given new asphalt. But currently asphalting and the price of their items used in road construction had dropped.
According to Afghan, no culvert and ditches had been built around the road and there is no need for these things as well but still the contract price was very high.
He said another road from Paktia University to the second sub-road which 1.5 kilometer is a project in which massive corruption has happened. This road is rehabilitated at a cost of 27 million afs.
In addition, the Gardez Municipality in a formal letter No. 169 dated July 31/2019 had recommended the construction of a township in the Salokhelo locality of Gardez.
The land belongs to the Ministry of Defence. The Urban Affairs and Land Department in its letter No. 15 dated September 8/2019 raised objection over the municipality’s recommendation and termed the land disputed.
According to the documents available with Pajhwok Afghan News Salokhel, the Niyazi tribe and the 302 Thunder Corps claim ownership of the land.
But according to the municipality letter No. 1638, amount for the map sketching and printing had been paid to the relevant authority by the municipality employees.
Abdul NaseerAlamyar, the Paktia Chamber of Commerce and Investment head, also acknowledged massive corruption in the municipality. He said municipality contracts were not transparent and failed to provide services to the people.
Wolesi Jirga members NaseebMuqbel and Ibrahim Ghashtali also alleged massive corruption in Gardez Municipality and added people had conveyed their complaints to them.
On the other hand, Esmatullah Khalid who is Gardez mayor since the last four and half a years, said he brought about some changes to the city but some other reforms were delayed due to social issues.
He said besides municipality workers, the city people were also responsible for corruption as they paved the way for it.
Khalid rejected awarding multiple contracts to a single company and agreed that somehow corruption took place in the office.
But he said transparency has been ensured in the municipality activities to some level.
“We have limited financial resources, we are given no significant programs from the central government for implementation, there are many opportunities and needs, we still emphasize on more care and work,” he said.
He accused former workers of his office of negligence and said that the office’s revenue and personnel increased after his appointment to the position.
Khalid acknowledged arbitrary township constructions in parts of the city but said that he had several times requested police help in this regard.
Former Paktia acting police chief, Col. Lutfullah Kamran, who is currently police chief of Paktika province, accused the mayor of corruption and said that they were not directly asked for action but letters were sent to local police stations, a move he termed as questionable.
New Paktia police chief, Brig. Gen. NajibullahSartir, said that no such an issue had been shared with them.
On the other hand, Gardez mayor said, “Lack of a master plan for Gardez city is the main problem, the municipality and other relevant organs do not know how to go forward. The land ownership also has problems and the urban development and land authority should clarify it.”
Pajhwok requested Gardez municipality for documents about distribution of land plots in townships, markets, recreational areas and residential areas, but the office refused to provide the documents.
Pajhwok also requested educational documents of the mayor who is said to have received fake certificates from an Indian educational center, but Gardez municipality is yet to reply.
The Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) in a report issued this year titled “Gardez municipality, had said the municipality’s performance was worst this year due to lack of services, disorder and lack of transparency in the office.