BALKH: Local power utility officials say Taliban militants collect 30 million Afghanis in electricity bills annually from 10,000 power consumers in areas under their control in northern Balkh province.
Eng. Hamidullah Hamid, head of the Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) in Balkh, told OrbandNews that 10,000 of their consumers lived in regions under the Taliban’s writ and all their bills went to militants.
He said the Taliban collected the bi-monthly arrears owed by consumers in parts of Balkh and Nahr Shahi districts of the province. The militants collect around five million Afghanis in each period of bills, Hamid added.
In total, the Taliban collect 30 million Afghanis in electricity bills from the mentioned areas annually, he notified, saying that despite DABS was an enterprise but the Taliban still did not allow them to install meters for customers in areas under the rebels’ control.
Rahmatullah, a resident of the Balkh district, confirmed that the Taliban amassed electricity bills in some villages of the district. For instance, he mentioned that the Taliban collected the dues from Bahauddin, Khwaja Kholak, Plas Posh, Boka, and Hiwad areas. “The Taliban collect the bills based on their own rules and regulations.”
Baryali, an assumed name, a resident of Afghanya Shahrak area of Nahr Shahi district, said the Taliban collected their bills besides gathering dues in the neighboring villages, Seyagird and Tarkmania.
Balkh governor, Mohammad Farhad Azimi, said that the electricity bills were the government’s revenue source and efforts were on to prevent the Taliban from obtaining the payments.
He said that Afghan security forces would launch a clearing operation in Balkh and Nahr Shahi districts to purge the Taliban from the areas.
Taliban did not respond to OrbandNews’ requests for comment about the matter.
Balkh police spokesman, Adil Shah Adil, said that they would launch operations against the Taliban in the two districts. He said that the offensives would kick off in coordination with DABS and the governor’s house in the near future.
The electricity supplied to Balkh province is imported from Uzbekistan.