Balkh residents frustrated by rising fuel prices

As winter sets in, residents of Balkh province in northern Afghanistan are expressing frustration over increasing fuel and firewood prices.

With limited job opportunities, the hike in prices, particularly for coal, is causing hardships during the cold season, locals said.

“The government should intervene to lower prices, as people’s earning capacity is limited,” said Mohammad Salim, a Balkh resident.

“Given our incomes, both wood and coal are prohibitively expensive. Government control could potentially reduce prices,” Shah Wali, another resident, said.

However, fuel vendors argue they are buying these materials at elevated prices.

“I urge the government to reduce coal prices and make briquettes more affordable to help the people and nation,” said Abdullah, a Balkh shopkeeper.

“People are strapped for cash. Even selling garlic at 65 Afghanis leaves us with a marginal profit,” Shamsullah, another shopkeeper, said. “The government’s pricing targets are unrealistic.”

Meanwhile, Taluiban mayor in Balkh acknowledged the price surge but advised sellers against excessive pricing.

“With the Afghani’s value rising and the dollar’s falling, prices should be aligned with the current rates,” said Mohammad Kazim Tariq, Taliban mayor in Balkh.

Balkh is particularly affected by the spike in coal prices, being situated near coal-rich provinces such as Samangan and Sar-e-Pul, known for high-quality coal.

Currently, the price for seven kilograms of coal in Balkh’s markets is 65 Afghanis.