Lawmakers in the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of Parliament, on Sunday aggressively questioned the transport minister on the string of recent fuel tankers fires and accused him of “illegal” appointments in the ministry.
Transport Minister Qudratullah Zaki, who is an aide to Abdul Rashid Dostum, was asked about the Herat fire that occurred in mid-February and destroyed hundreds of fuel trucks, the fire at a border town in Farah, and the fire at a fuel tankers' station in Kabul on May 1 that killed nine people. He was also questioned about his “repeated” failure to appear before Parliament, and his recent appointments in the Ministry of Transport.
The legislators sought a vote to disqualify the minister and remove him from his post, but this did not happen due to a lack of quorum. This was followed by a heated debate in which MPs accused each other of favoritism in the summoning of ministers.
“Every position is sold, a deal is made… at the Ministry of Transport some have been beaten up,” said Abbas Ibrahimzada, an MP from Balkh.
“Two thousand vehicles were burned. They were not owned by any lawmaker, that’s why they are not raising their voice. 40,000 families were supported by those 2,000 vehicles,” said Khalid Asad, an MP from Paktika.
The lawmakers said there is a need for balance when it comes to the summoning of cabinet ministers.
“The ministries have been accused of embezzlement repeatedly, but this ministry has not received any blame. Why has this person (minister) been summoned?” asked Habiba Danesh, an MP from Takhar.
“We will stand with you if the transport minister has violated the lawmakers’ request, but we request that you do not play favorites,” said Khan Agha Rezaee, an MP from Kabul.
The transport minister rejected the allegations against him and said that according to their agreement with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transport has no role in stopping tanker trucks carrying fuel and other goods outside the Kabul gates or at border towns.
“Our income is collected through a proper system. We have received a clear warning that the employees of the Transport Ministry have no right to stop trucks,” Zaki said.