Route of death: Nato supply tankers bribe their way to the border

Police, govt officials, drivers; all part of the moneymaking extravaganza.

Taha Siddiqui July 11, 2011


Mohammad Sarfaraz, a Nato oil tanker driver was on his way to Afghanistan when he was told to turn around by the police, on grounds that the vehicles allowed through Torkham border had reached its limit of fifty for that day. But it was not as easy as waiting for one day. The tanker would have to travel several hundred kilometres back so as to remain out of danger and then try again the next day.

“I have paid more than Rs50,000 in bribes at different police check posts after Mianwali, yet they sent me back,” Sarfaraz complained to union members at Dhok Pathan in Attock district.

Sarfaraz says he had been given Rs300,000 by his employers (who confirmed the amount when contacted) to grease the palms of law enforcers and local administration officials and avoid ‘security issues’ with them.

Despite the pay off, the police seem to be getting greedier. “I’ve even been beaten up by the police when I refused to pay the amount they were asking for,” he said.

After a few minutes of talking, Sarfaraz said he had to leave since it was not safe for him to park anywhere. “We don’t even have parking spots in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). I will have to go back all the way to Mianwali,” he said, as he drove away into the horizon.

“We usually make rounds around the Attock bridge,” said another driver who made it through police negotiations. Then they try their luck the next day.

“The police do not let us return. This is daily routine at the bridge. Unless we pay up or find illegal parking spots for which we usually pay Rs30,000.”

The All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners Association (APOTOA) has sent letters to numerous government officials, including the K-P chief minister, protesting the harassment of drivers.

“We will be forced to block the supply route soon, if the government doesn’t stop this corruption,” warned the association.

Senator Haji Adeel of the ANP told The Express Tribune that corruption is widespread. “Even for legal work, people have to pay kick backs” he added.

The police and government are not the only ones cashing in on the deadly route. The fuel in each tanker costs around Rs7 million. In some instances, this is taken out of the tankers before it is set on fire. Goods stolen from containers are sold at the Karkhano Market in Peshawar.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2011.


Dr,A.K.Tewari | 10 years ago | Reply

Supply rout will remain operative . The cost of transportation will be made cost effective in due course of time .

Nadeem Ahmed | 10 years ago | Reply

@ Imran Mir, I was also wondering why someone would do such a dangerous business. In normal circumstances this business would have stopped after first attack on tankers. I think when these tankers return from Afghansitan, they are filled with narcotics and weapons.

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