Drivers complain about disorder, bribery at Afghan-Iran border

ZARANJ (Pajhwok): Truck drivers in southwestern Nimroz province claim they face disorder and are forced to pay bribes while transferring transit goods from Afghanistan to Iran and vice versa.
Samiullah Hekmat, a driver, told Pajhwok Afghan News some circles of the previous government were creating problems and disorder by infiltrating the border branch of transportation.
For instance, he said, in Zaranj city, there were problems and disorder in the area called Safari point, near the silk bridge, where the entry and exit permit was distributed to drivers.
He said every day 20 cargo vehicles should go from Nimroz to Iran, but the administrative corruption and disorders that existed in the border branch of transportation, permits were only provided to those who pay bribes or know someone.
He claimed: “Several powerful individuals are there at Garaj Nawroziha, one of them is Alauddin. They have prepared a list of 20 vehicles that must go to the common market between Afghanistan and Iran and on the other side.”
Hakmat complained it had been 65 days he imported dairy products from Iran but he was unable to receive a permit but there were others who made shipment four times a month.
He also complained about the existence of problems and bribery inside Iran and said: “When we pass through the passport branch, they start taking bribes and we pay eight to nine million tomans in bribe, but there is no one to stop this corruption”.
“At the time of registration (entry ticket) in Iran, they take 50,000 tomans and 50,000 more during the inspection of the vehicle. When the load weight is 10 kilograms higher, they charge 100,000 to 200,000 tomans and if we don’t pay the money, they do not weight our vehicles.”
The source added: “At the time of loading in the parking lot of a person named Abdul Rahman, they charge us 360,000 tomans while in the past we used to pay 40,000 to 80,000 tomans.”
“For loading flour and gas, 200,000 tomans should be paid and 700,000 more are charged for entering the parking.”
He added: “At the Zhantiwa parking lot, 400,000 tomans are charged for loading. If we don’t pay, they seize our goods. When we leave the parking lot, there are individuals on the road who tear the tarpaulin of our vehicle with a knife – which costs 100,000 afghanis.”
Meanwhile, Ezatullah Rukhshani, another driver, who has been working at the silk border for 10 years, has a similar complaint.
He said the Iranian government had built fuel company to supply fuel to Afghan vehicles and this was legal because the money was deposited into the account of the government. But when crossing the border, Afghan drivers were accused of illegally loading the fuel.
He grumbled that the Iranian government took a lot of bribes from Afghan drivers that sometimes they were unable make any profit to meet their needs.
However, Maulvi Abdul Wahid Farooq, director of land transportation in Nimroz, called the claims of the drivers baseless and said the system was prepared based on a queuing system and based on the system about 60 to 120 vehicles go to the terminal for loading.
He said: “The department of transportation has adjusted the traffic and transit vehicles based on the computer system and no one could pass without his turn.”
“The general administration of the silk bridge port has a digital system of the queue process.”
“The corruption might happen secretly to some extent, but we have tasked the intelligence to arrest corrupt elements and bring them to justice.”
“A driver is obliged to submit documents such as the vehicle ID, passport, entry permit, and the letterhead of the respective company, number of plate and checked and then given permission to leave.”
Farooq said: “We held a meeting with governor, directors of private companies, chambers of commerce, and the meeting decided that the security of the Iranian vehicles are guaranteed and the smallest damage should not be allowed so the Iranian side must give the same commitment and avoid irregularities.”
In order to solve the problem of the Afghan drivers, they have formed a committee that would visit Iran over the problems of Afghan drivers in person with the document they have in hand with the Iranian side so that people could continue their business easily.