Insecurity is increasing in in Balkh highway due to the presence of the Taliban where they stop vehicles traveling and take money from drivers, residents of the northern province claimed.
The highway connects Jawzjan, Sar-e-Pul and Faryab provinces with Balkh.
“When you travel from here [Balkh] to Jawzjan, you are not sure that you will safely arrive at your distance,” said Maroof, a Faryab resident.
“The drivers and passengers are forced to pay money when they travel through the highway,” said Farhad, a Balkh resident.
Drivers did not comment on the record due to threats to their lives but said that the Taliban often establish checkpoints on the highway and take money from them.
“At least 3,000 trucks are working in the Dara-e-Soof [district] (where coal deposits are located]. They should pay Afs6,000 [$74] to Afs7,000 [$87] to the Taliban every month. The same situation is dominant in Mazar-Shibirghan highway but it is a little less. Taliban are extorting from all trucks,” said Sayed Abdullah Masroor, deputy head of Balkh Provincial Council.
In a recent incident, the Taliban attacked a security outpost on the highway in which four members of the group were killed, Balkh police spokesman Adil Shah Adil said.
“We had many operations in Balkh-Jawzjan highway this month. We established five bases along the highway to ensure the safety of the highway and nearby villages,” he said.
The Balkh-Jawzjan highway connects other provinces with Aqina Port. Its closure, according to critics, will damage Afghan investors financially.