Afghanistan: Teachers made to hand over one month’s salary for road work

A number of schoolteachers in Ghor province said they have been asked by the Taliban to pay one month’s salary towards the construction of a 15km road connecting the Taiwara district to the Herat-Ghor highway in the west of the country.

Three schoolteachers in Ghor said they have been asked to pay one month’s salary, of 6,000 afghanis (nearly $70), over to the Taliban. However, according to them their salary doesn’t even cover their basic needs.

The road in Taiwara district in Ghor is a key route that will connect the district with other parts of the province. Construction of the road got underway a month ago and starts in Takht Dara village in Taiwara district of Ghor.

Residents and activists in Ghor said that the road is part of a 375-kilometer highway project and while important for locals, the Taliban cannot expect their people to pay for it.

One teacher in Ghor, who wished to remain anonymous, said his monthly salary of 6,000 afghanis does not cover expenses for his five-member family. He said he was recently asked to hand over his salary for the road and had no choice but to do so.

“I can hardly cover my own needs with the 6,000 Afs but we paid one-month’s salary to our (school) principal for the road construction,” said the teacher.

Another teacher, Eid Mohammad, said public employees and Taliban’s military personnel have also been asked to contribute to the road construction project.

“As far as I know, all public employees in the district have been asked to pay an amount equal to one month of their salary and the locals should pay 1,000 Afs,” he said. “I also paid one month of my salary which is 6,000 Afs.”

Activist Faiz Mohammad said: “The government needs to build roads with its own budget. I don’t think it would be possible to build it with people’s funds. The government should understand there is poverty among the people.”

Another two activists in Ghor said that the collection of money for construction of the road started six months ago and is still ongoing. Based on the program, each family will need to pay 1,000 afghanis to fund the project, they said.

Taliban says no force used to collect the money

Taliban officials in Ghor said that no one has been forced to pay money for the road project, but the people and public employees have handed over money of their own accord.

“The reports in foreign media about the collection of money from the people are not true and we have not collected money from anyone by force,” said a Taliban official in Ghor.

This comes amid a deteriorating situation in the country – which was confirmed this week by the United Nations.

In its latest report, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that Afghanistan started the year – 2023 – as the world’s largest and most severe humanitarian crisis. The UN agency stated that an alarming increase in the number of people in the country are in need of humanitarian and protection assistance – in fact a record 28.3 million people – or two-thirds of the population – are in need of aid this year.

“This represents a massive deterioration both in terms of numbers and severity,” read the report.