To combat corruption in transport sector, revenue collection to be electronically processed by banks

The Ministry of Transport has declared that its revenues are not collected in a transparent and acceptable manner due to corruption. Officials say there are still problems specific to transport revenue collection, and the ministry is working to combat corruption by making toll gates electronic and eliminating physical cash transactions. The ministry hopes that with the transport revenue collection through banks, corruption in the ministry will decrease and revenues will be transferred to the government account in a transparent manner. Officials believe that in order to improve the transport situation, they have prepared a draft Road Law, 90% of which has been completed, and by planning and implementing it, the transportation problems in the country will be solved. The Ministry of Transport is talking about corruption in revenue collection, compounded by the loss of millions of Afghanis this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Officials at the Ministry of Transport say that corruption has crept into the sector, as a result of which part of the revenue is not collected in a transparent manner. Qudratullah Zaki, Minister of Transport, on Tuesday, December 29, in a press conference titled “Environmental analysis to prepare a strategic plan for the Ministry of Transport for the years 2021-2025”, described the transport situation in the country as “worrying” and added that the ministry was trying to come up with a solution. According to him, over the past four months, efforts have been made to prepare a “comprehensive and accountable law” that takes into account all the problems and needs of the transport administration. Mr. Zaki said that in preparing the articles of the law, lawmakers have been asked by the Ministry of Justice as a consultant to draft a comprehensive law. He said that the draft law regulating road transport has been completed 90% and efforts are underway to prepare and implement this law as soon as possible. The Minister of Transport expressed hope that the implementation of this law would solve a large part of the transport problems.

On the other hand, he criticized the existence of corruption in the ministry, especially in the area of revenue collection, saying that revenues were not collected as they should be. He said that there were still certain problems in revenue collection, with lack of transparency in collection. Qudratullah Zaki added that efforts were being made to eradicate corruption in the sector, and that the ministry intended to build an electronic and banking system for revenue collection to combat corruption. According to him, this process could be effective in collecting revenue, because in the absence of physical cash transactions, corruption would not occur. “It is important for us to raise revenue,” he said. “There is a lot of corruption in the revenue sector. We are creating mechanisms to prevent corruption and to ensure enough revenue in the state treasury.” In addition, he clarified that he had planned reforms to fight corruption in the ministry. Qudratullah Zaki said the ministry’s organization should be responsive and based on the ministry’s needs. He said he planned to hire professional staff at the ministry to reduce corruption. The Minister of Transport stated: “Corruption is a great disgrace to the government. [How] can we fight it? The only solution is to bring in reforms.”

The Ministry of Transport has said that the failure to collect revenue transparently, had caused heavy financial losses this year, which were compounded with the implementation of the quarantine plan. Earlier, officials at the Ministry of Transport said that last year’s revenue from road transport was more than 156 million Afghanis, which dropped to about 88 million Afghanis for the same period this year, a decrease of 72 million Afghanis compared to last year.

Old, polluting cars to be stopped

The Minister of Transport also said that transport unions and companies in the country were unregulated, with low standards, and that the ministry was working to regulate them within the framework of the transport law. Mr. Zaki said that the unions operating in the country should meet national and international standards. He said that there was a good mechanism in this regard and efforts were being made to regulate these transport companies and unions accordingly. In addition, Mr. Zaki noted that the ministry also had a program in the field of vehicle maintenance. To prevent air pollution, he said, he planned to take worn-out, old and polluting vehicles out of traffic circulation.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Transport said that it would create a national board for road transport safety. The Minister of Transport said that the establishment of this board was important for the prevention of traffic accidents, and that at present, due to the lack of a specific mechanism, the casualties caused by traffic accidents were far more than suicide attacks and explosions. Although he did not provide statistics on casualties, he said that hundreds of people were killed on highways each year. Mr. Zaki said that the Ministry of Transport was working to prevent these incidents so that passengers could travel safely to and between provinces.

The Minister of Transport also criticized the urban transport system, saying that there was no regulation of transport inside cities. The Minister of Transport stated that they had initiated studies to regulate urban transport, taking on the views and opinions of experts from Turkey and Japan in this area so that they could better regulate urban transport.

Last year, the Kabul Department of the Environment launched a program called Ecotage. The department said that in order to prevent air pollution, it identified polluting vehicles with the help of the traffic department and removed them from traffic circulation.