Kabul – Payk
June 19, 2021
Reporter: Bilal Khudadad
A number of bus stations in the capital city of the country have been rented by municipal district officials, the proceeds of which does not go to the Kabul Municipality’s treasury, but to an unknown address.
Some of these bus stations have been built four decades ago and 264 new bus stations have been built in the past three years in 18 municipal districts at a total cost of 120 million afghanis from Kabul Municipality’s development budget.
Kabul Municipality, on its official website, has written that these stations were built in accordance with standards, which include having a canopy made of nickel and metal, garbage bin, bench, solar system, canteen and a bicycle stand. The construction cost of each station was around 450,000.00 afghanis.
The non-existence of an urban transportation system, and officials and people’s negligence towards sustenance and maintenance of public property have turned these stations to shelters for drug addicts, in addition to being used for personal and illegal gains.
Payk Investigative Journalism Center’s new investigation, conducted in Kabul city’s municipal districts three and six, has found out that some of these bus stations were used us shops and have been rented for a monthly pay ranging from two to 10 thousand afghanis per.
The bank receipts and documents obtained by Payk reporter indicate that the monthly rent of these shops has been deposited in several Pashtaney Bank accounts. However, the Kabul Municipality says it knows nothing about the money and calls the transaction illegal.
Payk reporter’s attempts to interview some of the shop owners on their activities in the bus stations were to no avail. Some of them not only refused to interview but they also used foul language.
Among them only two three people accepted to talk on the matter, claiming that they have legal receipts and documents which shows that they have been paying monthly rent regularly to the relevant municipal district. They also claim that this place have been rented to them by the municipal district.
Amrullah, a resident of Kabul’s district six and a shop owner in Darulaman Road, tells Payk reporter that it has been three years since he set up his shop in the bus station and is depositing a monthly rent of six and half thousand afghanis in a bank account.
Ali Jan, a resident of Kabul’s district three and another shop owner, who has legal documents, says:
“Three years ago the situation was better, the rent was only two and half thousand afghanis. Now, every month, I pay ten and half thousand afghanis rent to head of the municipal district.”
The officials at the Kabul city’s third municipal district refused to comment on the matter, adding that only Office of the Spokesperson of the Kabul Municipality is authorized to talk to the media.
Meanwhile, Samira Rasa, the spokesperson for the Kabul Municipality, in an in person interview with the Payk reporter, asked the head of Kabul’s third municipal district to explain the matter through a phone call, to which the voice on the other end of the call said that the matter is not real and the documents are forged.
Spokesperson of the Kabul Municipality does not deny or confirm the findings of the investigation and the Pashtaney Bank receipts, however, she promises that matter would be investigated and if any municipal district officials are found to be involved in this illegal matter, they would be dealt with through legal channels.
According to Ms. Rasa, the Kabul Municipality has no plans on the matter and turning bus stations into shops is also have been done with their awareness and illegally.
However, Baz Muhammad Mubariz, a member of the Senate’s Commission on Urban Development, believes that the corruption in government institutions are so widespread that the authorities don’t know about their subordinates wrong doings and illegal activities. According to him, laws of the country are clear on these matters and violators should be punished in accordance with the law.
According to Wahidullah Farzaee, a member of the Afghan Lawyers Association, renting public facilities (bus stations) without legal order and permission by any government employee or official is considered to be embezzlement and abuse of official authority, something which is also stated in the Penal Code of Afghanistan.
The first and second paragraphs of Article 403 of Penal Code of Afghanistan, regarding the abuse of official authority, state:
“If a public servant carries out an act in violation of the law for his own or other person’s benefit, he has committed the crime of abusing authority and shall be sentenced to midterm imprisonment with a fine of 60 to 300 thousand afghanis.”