Government to introduce a highway-toll to generate income to build new roads

Kabul, December 20, 2004 - The government of Afghanistan has announced that it will impose a highway tax for all vehicles using the major roads that connect the capital city to the provinces.

The ministry of public works, in Kabul city said the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has recently loaned a sum US $80 million towards the reconstruction and rebuilding of over 1,000 kilometers of road throughout Afghanistan.

Correspondents say this is an attempt by the government to recoup some of the money spent and to generate income to reinvest in further road constructions.

The taxes will be collected by manned checkpoints positioned at various junctions of the major routes.

The deputy head of the public works department, Dr Wali Mohammad Rasuli said the individual vehicles will be charged by the weight they carry in tons.

The money collected from the taxes will be spent on rebuilding other roads and bridges. "We will try to place five collection points along the Kabul-Kandahar highway," Rasuli said.

The tax points will be at the entrance to the capital Kabul city, Maidan Shar city (approximately 40km outside of Kabul), Ghazni city, Kalat city (the capital of Zabul province) and Kandahar City.

He was not able to comment on how much money they envisage collecting. But drivers said they were happy to pay a levy imposed by the Afghan government, provided the roads were built properly.

Mohammad Arif, a bus driver along the Kabul-Mazar route complained about the terrible condition of the roads in the country. But he said "If the government constructs new roads and repairs them for us we will happily pay the taxes," he said.

There are many reported incidents of highway robbery and armed bandits scavenging the major roads, intimidating people and collecting "private taxes" imposed by warlords and we will be pleased to pay the government imposed tax rather than bow to thugs.