Monday, 06 December 2021 08:20 GMT

Bribes, Strongmen behind Unruly Kabul Traffic

(MENAFN- Daily Outlook Afghanistan) KABUL - Taking bribe by traffic police and illegal use of roads by drivers linked to strongmen and growing traffic congestion in Kabul result in violation of traffic rules and people's rights.
According to the Ministry of Transport's cargo and passenger transport department, passenger vehicles ply 33 routes and use 450 stations in Kabul.
Pajhwok Afghan News observed passenger services at five busy areas of Kabul city including Shah Du Shamshira, Cinema-i-Pamir, Sepahi Gumnam Square, Kota-i-Sangi and Sarai Shamali.
Drivers at Sarai Shamali station had no complaints, but those at the other four stations, said they were allowed to pick passengers without their turn against paying 700 to 1,400 afghanis to traffic police or individuals managing vehicles.
Individuals with disabilities are tasked at some stations by some associations and passenger transport companies with collecting 20 afghanis from each vehicle in coordination with the Ministry of Transport.
Drivers say those who pay money to traffic police or their vehicles belong to powerful individuals can pick passengers frequently on any route compared to those who do not pay.
Roads and strongmen
The Mirwais Maidan area of Kota-i-Sangi is the scene of unruly traffic and has no bus stand for passengers. Many vehicles, most of them Mercedes model that belong to strongmen, drive on the wrong side to pick passengers, often leading to chaotic scenes.
Javed, a driver on the Mirwais Maidan route, said the stand for vehicles transporting Kampani passengers located area near Spin Ghar Hospital, but these vehicles drove on the opposite side of the road for hundreds of meters to take passengers from the Kota-i-Sangi bridge, the main square in the area.
He said theses vehicles violated traffic rules but they were never fined because they belonged to strongmen.
'Police do not prevent this illegal practice, if we take passengers five times a day, the vehicles of strongmen will take them eight times a day, Javed said.
He said half of the vehicles on the route belonged to strongmen and the remaining half to ordinary people who had to wait for hours to find passengers.
This reporter was talking to a traffic police official in Kota-i-Sangi when a driver entered his booth and demanded his vehicle's number plate that was taken by traffic police for not paying 300 afghanis as fine.
'Do not make me emotional, please give me the plate, the vehicle belongs to the commander, the driver told the traffic police without giving details. However, the traffic police did not give him the plate.
When a driver was seen driving on the wrong side of the road and was asked about the reason, he said: 'What should we do. All drivers do this as our bosses tell us to go even on the wrong side.
He said first bribery should be prevented and added drivers paid bribe to traffic police on daily and weekly basis to allow them to go to on the wrong side of the for a kilometer.
A traffic police officer in Kota-i-Sangi area, who wished to go unnamed, said around 80 passenger vehicles belonged to former jihadi commanders and strongmen.
He said these vehicles drove on the opposite side from Sara-i-Herati area to the main square of Kota-i-Sangi by force and collected passengers anywhere without their turn.
'Whenever a traffic police officer tries to stop or fine such drivers, several men laced with knives and bayonets come late in the evening and threaten us, police also do not help us, he said.
He rejected taking money from drivers and said: Kota-i-Sangi is one of the worst and busiest areas in Kabul that has six illegal stations, only strongmen command here and working here is so depressive.
Mohammad Ayub, a driver on the road between Kota-i-Sangi and Charahi Qambar area, said: 'We wait for hours to find passengers but some drivers by paying money to representatives of people with disabilities and traffic police take passengers from anywhere without their turns.
He said they had several times complained to the traffic police manager of the area but the problem remained.
Some people say drivers who take passengers without their turns pay 1,400 afghanis to traffic police or someone from (representatives of people with disabilities) who manage traffic on weekly basis.
Akhtar Mohammad, a driver in Deh Dana area of Kabul, said hundreds of drivers took passengers without their turn by paying money to traffic police.
'Gangsters and bullying figures have several times denied me my turn by force and snatched passengers, no one hears our voice, he said.
He said: 'Police fine me 300 afghanis if I pick passengers from Senama-i-Pamir, Shah Do Shmashira area, while other drivers who regularly pay them money take passengers without fear and nobody prevent them, he said.
Salem, another driver on the Shah Do Shamshira Bridge who violated the turn and tried to pick passengers, said: 'The traffic police take 100 afghanis daily and 700 afghanis weekly for allowing to pick passengers.
He said if he waited for his the turn, he would only make six rounds and if violated the turn, he could make nine rounds.
Hameedullah, who drives on Darulaman, Deh Dana and Doghabad line, acknowledged traffic police took bribe. He said: 'If I violate the turn, I can get up to ten rounds but I respect the turn, I cannot gets over eight rounds.
Offering bribe to choose the shortest line
Ahmad Jan, a driver from Shah-i-Do Shamshira Station on Doghabad line, said vehicles on the line had been told to transfer passengers until the last station in Da Dana and Doghabad areas.
But vehicles belonging to disabled individuals were allowed to take passengers on the shortest route for the same fare, he added and alleged the disabled fed bribes to traffic police.
He said the drivers who offered bribes could move around quickly and during the evening time they picked and dropped more passengers.
'We often fight with these drivers but we cannot stop them from giving bribe to police, he added.
Mujibullah, a disabled man who has been assigned with collecting taxes from vehicles using the Shah-i-Doshamshira station, said they took 10 or 20 afghanis from vehicles against each turn according to the destination they covered. He rejected taking additional amount from drivers.
Traffic officials near the Shrine of Shah-i-Do Shamshera rejected extortion or taking bribe from drivers.
Marking vehicles of those offering bribe
Mohammad Qasem, a representative of the disabled people and one of the vehicles organizers near Senama-i-Pamir, said over 260 vehicles on the Arzan Qemat, Bagrami and Kart-i-Naw line had been registered with him.
He said some vehicles picked passengers without parking on the line as their drivers gave bribe to traffic police.
He added last year over 12 vehicles who offered bribe to traffic police were attached symbols to be identified. 'We told the traffic police why these vehicles are taken money, they responded by saying 'you have nothing to do with them.
Conductor of a vehicle in Senama-i-Pamir said as long as traffic police were not paid money, they would allow anyone to pick passengers beyond turn.
Police spokesman Baseer Mujahid said police would investigate complaints regarding the alleged offering of bribes by drivers to traffic officials. (Pajhwok)


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