Fuel prices soar in Paktia as winter approaches, residents say

PAKTIA, Afghanistan — Residents of Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan are facing steep increases in firewood and coal prices as winter sets in, exacerbating existing challenges.

Locals, grappling with unemployment, express concerns about affording necessary heating fuel. Gardiz, Paktia’s provincial capital and one of Afghanistan’s colder cities, is particularly affected as residents prepare for the harsh winter season.

Mohammad, a Paktia resident, shared his struggles: “I haven’t earned a single Afghani in almost 16 days. The cost of one kharwar (load) of wood is now 8,000 to 9,000 Afghanis, which is unaffordable for us.”

Yar Mohammad, another resident, highlighted the economic crunch: “With no income and a weak economy, buying fuel is impossible.”

Atiqullah lamented the high costs: “We can’t afford wood and coal for the winter. Despite our dire need, prices remain high.”

Fuel vendors, including wood and coal sellers, note that the Taliban have not intervened to regulate prices.

Zafar Khan, a local, emphasized the financial strain: “The cold weather and high prices are beyond our means. A piece of wood costs between 8,000 to 9,000 Afghanis, which is too much for us.”

According to sellers, recent months have seen a rise of 1,500 to 2,000 Afghanis per 560-kilogram shipment of wood and an increase of 1,000 to 1,200 Afghanis for the same quantity of coal.

This crisis comes as nearly 24 million Afghans live in poverty, according to United Nations statistics.