By Obaid Ghori
Ghor province on Afghanistan map. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Illegal gunmen have prevented contractors from clearing roads of snow in western Ghor province, an official said on Monday.
The gunmen sought money from contractors in return for letting them continue snow-clearing operations, the Afghanistan Natural Disasters Management Authority head for Ghor said.
Hamidullah Dadfar told Pajhwok Afghan News the roads connected Dolina, Dawlatyar and Lal Sar Jangal districts with the provincial capital. The roads have been blocked by heavy snowfall.
Deputy Public Works Director Mirza Mohammad confirmed that armed men were not allowing contractors to reopen the roads. He accused local commanders of demanding 20,000 afghanis ($404.94) to 40,000 afghanis to allow snow-clearing operations.
A contractor, Abdul Salam, said armed individuals had asked him to give them a 15 percent share of the contract cost. Without naming anyone, he said he was compelled to pay money to a commander because the government had no authority in the area.
Nearly 115 illegal armed groups, involving 6,000 individuals, are active in remote parts of the province, local officials say.