Over the past two years, local Taliban forces in Ghor province collected funds from residents, claiming it was for constructing the Ghor-Herat highway. However, after gathering the people’s money, they announced that the construction costs would be covered by a contract with a lead mine in the Tulak district of the province, and the collected funds would be allocated to other public projects. Currently, Ghor residents express concern that these funds have been misappropriated by local Taliban officials, and there is no accountability. Residents state that, while poverty and hunger are increasing in the province, the Taliban have seized aid from humanitarian organizations under the guise of the Ghor-Herat highway project, and they have extorted money two to three times from all local businesses.
Residents of Ghor province state that, according to the Taliban leadership’s decision, the budget for the construction of the Ghor-Herat highway is sourced from the lead mine in the Tulak district and other mines within this province. They express concern that funds collected forcibly, through the intimidation of government officials of the Taliban, businessmen, and other citizens, are at risk of misappropriation.
Ghor province residents further assert that local Taliban forces in this province have repeatedly seized aid from organizations under the guise of road construction, extorting money from the people. After the cessation of humanitarian organizations’ activities in the province of Ghor, without considering the poor economic conditions of the population, they have forcibly collected money from the residents of this province.
Ahmad Nabi, a resident of Ghor province, states that while unemployment and poverty cast a shadow over people’s lives, the Taliban have forcibly collected money from them two to three times for the “asphalting of the Herat-Ghor highway.” He adds, “The Taliban see that the economic situation of the people is dire. People don’t even have enough for their monthly expenses. They forcibly collected money from the people at gunpoint.”
This Ghor resident emphasizes that families in this province have given money to the Taliban despite not having enough for their daily needs. He declares, “There were households that didn’t have a kilogram of flour, but they were forced to pay the money. They collected money from us twice. Once a thousand, and another time 500 Afghanis, which is not an easy task for us, the struggling people, to gather.”
Ahmad Nabi states that now that they have announced that the road construction costs will be covered by mining, the people’s funds should be transparently used in other public projects.
Hussain (pseudonym), a resident of Lal-o-Sarjangal district of Ghor province, reveals that the Taliban have collected money from him and other shopkeepers in the district three times. According to him, over the past two years, Taliban fighters, under the guise of “taxation, tithe, and road construction,” have repeatedly taken money from them. He adds that they have only collected money from him three times specifically for the construction of the road.
This Ghor resident states, “Since the arrival of the Taliban, they consistently approached, demanding money. They collected funds from us three times: once a thousand, the second time 600, and the last time 500 Afghanis, asserting that it would be allocated for the construction of the Herat-Ghor highway.”
The businessman in Ghor stresses that if the Taliban are financing road construction through mining, they should be transparent with the public, detailing how and where the funds are being utilized.
In response to the growing concerns of residents in Ghor, the Taliban have stated that the collected funds from the people will be utilized in public projects such as water supply networks, electrical infrastructure, and other vital initiatives. However, they have not provided details regarding the manner of expenditure, the nature of projects, or the amount of funds gathered.
The spokesperson of the governor of the Taliban for Ghor province, while denying allegations of misappropriation of funds collected under the guise of road construction, asserts that these funds have not been embezzled and will be allocated to public projects in Ghor.
This comes as the majority of Ghor residents express concerns about the misappropriation of these funds and emphasize that the Taliban provide no accountability to the people and the donors of cash assistance.
Certain civil activists in Ghor province claim that despite allocating a budget for the Ghor-Herat highway several months ago, the destiny of people’s funds remains uncertain. They assert that money is presently being gathered from the residents for specific road constructions in certain districts, and the Taliban are not engaged in this procedure.
These civil activists emphasize that the Taliban should allocate these funds to connect the district roads to the center of this province.
Faheem (pseudonym), one of the civil activists in Ghor, alleges that the Taliban are not accountable for the funds collected from the impoverished people in this province, and the majority of these funds are distributed among the commanders of this group. He claims, “Although they inform the media that the money is allocated for public utility projects, there is no accountability for the funds collected from the people over the past two years or the aid forcibly taken from them.”
Adding to this, the civil activist in Ghor states, “Twice in one year, they collected tithe from the people. They provided no documents or receipts to the people and distributed them among themselves. Even the funds collected for the asphalting of the Herat-Ghor highway are internally divided under the guise of a project.”
This comes as the Taliban began preliminary work on the construction of the Herat-Ghor highway in the Dara Takht region, collecting money from the people in February 2023. However, after a few months of starting the project, they announced that the construction costs of this road would be covered by the revenue from the mines in this province.