Weak performance by Afghan security forces has made Kabul-Kandahar highway unsafe for many Afghan passengers and drivers. Corruption and money extortion are rampant on Kabul-Kandahar highway, a key route that connects Kabul to the southern part of the country.

Over 400 Afghan truck drivers have protested against killing of an Afghan truck driver in the hand of Afghan police in Qalat, the capital city of southern Zabul province. The drivers gathered on Friday, November 01, and blocked Kabul-Kandahar highway for a short time.

The Afghan police reportedly opened fire on a truck driver after he refused to pay extortion money on Wednesday night, October 31.    

The Kabul-Kandahar highway, which connects southern Afghanistan to the capital Kabul, is a key transit route in the country.

Tala Mohammad Atmanzai, the head of transportation union, told Kabul Now that the protest will continue unless the government does not put an end to money extortion in the hand of the Afghan police on Kandahar-Kabul highway.  

The protest will continue unless the government does not put an end to money extortion in the hand of the Afghan police on Kandahar-Kabul highway.

According to Atmanzai, the driver, shot dead by policemen, was a poor man. Police forces have shot him dead when he refused to pay extortion money. “It is said that the murder happened just for 20 afghanis,” he claimed.

Money extortion by police forces and Taliban insurgents

Afghan truck drivers have consistently been complaining about money extortion in the hands of Afghan police and the Taliban insurgents. They say money extortion is something common on Kabul-Kandahar highway. The Taliban insurgents also force the drivers to pay money extortion.      

Gul Islam Seyal, spokesperson for Zabul governor, says suspect policemen have been arrested in connection with the incident. A committee comprises security officials have been tasked to investigate the case, he said, noting that the local government is committed to put an end to money extortion by policemen and the Taliban insurgents.    

The protesters, however, accuse the Afghan ministry of transportation of duty negligence.  “The ministry of transport and security agencies have done nothing to prevent money extortion,” Atmanzai said.

The ministry refused to comment on the issue despite repeated calls by Kabul Now.

According to report by Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), Afghan truck drives paid one billion USD as extortion money in the year 2016.   

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