Kabul-Heart Truckers Strike Intensifies
Kabul- After staging demonstrations in Kabul city, truck drivers who commute on the Kabul-Herat highway announced on Saturday that vehicles of the Kabul-Herat Transportation Union (K-HTU) would halt all operations until the security situation on the highway improves.
The truck drivers central grievance is the deteriorating security situation facing stretches of the country’s major highway system. The Kabul-Herat highway, particularly the area passing through Kandahar, has become the site of routine attacks by insurgents and Illegal Armed Groups (IAGs) against travellers, and most often oil tankers.
In addition to being targeted by Taliban insurgents, striking drivers in Kabul said IAGs abduct people on the Kabul-Herat highway for ransom with impunity.
According to the drivers, although, the Afghan National Police (ANP) officials patrol the highway at regular intervals, four to five vehicles are robbed on a daily basis. “While travelling from Herat to Kabul yesterday, we were stopped by robbers and beaten,” said one protesting driver. “Although we were 100 meters away from a police check-post, nobody came to rescue us.”
The drivers added that so far the government has done nothing to solve their problems and the security situation is deteriorating with every passing day. The truckers urged President Karzai to step in and address the security issues on the highway. “We want President Karzai to address our problem; this problem cannot be solved by any commander or ministers, only President himself can address this problem,” said Haji Ahmad-u-llah, deputy head of Ahmad Shah Abdali Transportation Company.
In reaction to the strike, passengers commuting on the Kabul-Herat highway blocked a bridge and stopped all traffic in a showing of their own frustrations. Hundreds of passengers have been stranded in different cities along the highway due to the strike. “If the government cannot arrest a bunch of thieves, then they should arm us and we will arrest the thieves,” one of the angry passengers remarked.
Meanwhile, Dr. Najeeb Danesh, Deputy Spokesman of the Ministry of Interior (MoI), assured that within the next two or three days the problem would be solved. “Insha Allah We will solve this problem within the next two or three days,” Dr. Danesh said.
Last month, a number of oil tanker drivers met with the Internal Security and Justice Committee of the Lower House to express their concerns over the increasing insecurity on the highway. According to reports at the time, over 570 oil tankers use the highway every day, and at least three targeted daily.
Just last week the Governors of Ghazni, Maidan Wardak, Zabul and Kandahar provinces held a meeting in Maidan Shahr, the capital city of Wardak province, to address the concerns of logistics and supply companies who have been subject to attacks on the highway.
Although the Afghan government has assured that something would be done about the highway attacks and security would be improved, nothing has yet stymied the steady rise of violence and criminal activity. (ToloNews)