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Bus Drivers Go On Strike to Protest Police Mistreatment along Kabul-Kandahar Highway

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KABUL: Thousands of passengers have been put in limbo as bus drivers have blocked the Kabul-Kandahar highway in protest for extortion and mistreatment by police now for five days.

Hajji Agha, deputy head of Ahmad Shah Abdali private transportation company, said Tuesday that the drivers have gone on strike since last week.

He said that the drivers want the highway problems be solved.

“The transportation companies transport averagely 15,000 passengers to Kabul, Kandahar and Herat provinces including our own company. The five-day strike has caused 60,000 passengers await,” said Agha.

Several hotels, guest houses and terminals in Kandahar city, the capital of the province of the same name are full of guests who are waiting the road reopening. Most of them are repatriates from Iran and Pakistan, who say they are facing financial problems since the highway is blocked.

Hajji Abdul Qader, head of truck association, said they would continue strike until their problems on the highway are resolved. He warned to block roads to districts and other cities in the south.

“Police officers serving in the highway checkpoints are cruel people, they take illegal money from us and even kill our drivers who refuse to give money. The new transportation minister has created new problems for us. We want all our taxes and documents be processed in the custom offices and the illegal checkpoints be lifted from the highway,” Qader said.

The interior ministry promises to basically resolve the problems.

“Investigations are underway in this regard and we are trying to resolve this problem right away and from roots,” said Tareq Aryan, interior ministry spokesman.

The Kabul-Kandahar-Herat highway is a very important and strategic road which connects the capital to 16 provinces in the south, southwest, west in northwest. It also links Kabul to border points with Pakistan, Iran and Turkmenistan in the provinces of Kandahar, Nimroz, Farah and Herat.

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