The Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI) removed 135 officials of highways and 51 personnel of Kabul security gates from their posts on extortion charges, officials said.
According to Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi, the move is part of the ministry’s campaign against extortion on the country’s highways.
“They have been fired from their jobs and were referred to the relevant security agencies for further investigation,” the deputy minister of interior affairs, Abdul Saboor Qane, said.
The Interior Affairs Ministry said that after the increase in complaints about extortion on highways, police officers are patrolling various areas where complaints have been lodged to prevent extortion.
The move comes after weeks of protests by transportation companies who ended their strike on condition that extortion stops on highways.
Reports indicate that extortion, security threats and threats by armed robbers in key highways of Kabul-Mazar and Kabul-Kandahar, something that drivers and transportation companies say has undermined their business.
“A soldier came to me and said either give me 1,000 Afs or some chickens that you carrying in your vehicle. Then he took the key and took out some pullets,” said a driver.
“I told police that I have official license from the government. The police said that they don’t know what a license is. Then police took 500 Afs from me,” said a driver.
“The road was opened for the trucks, but I saw the police personnel closing the roads to make money,” said a driver on the Kabul-Mazar highway.
“If the drivers face a problem at checkpoints, we will stop our vehicles again,” said Hafizullah, representative of transportation companies.
The strike by the transportation companies also led to price hike in many cities, including Kabul.
“The roads are closed. Goods are not coming. We are faced with many problems,” said Saleh Kohdamani, head of investors’ union in Baghlan.