HERAT — Residents of some Herat districts say they are fed up with the Taliban’s extortion of their electricity payments, which the militant group has been forcibly collecting for years.

The Taliban are collecting electricity payments from more than 300 households in Gulran and Kuhsan districts, stealing about 1 million AFN ($13,000) each month, according to officials from the Herat office of the national power utility, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS).

“In six provinces, which include 18 districts, we’ve been unable to collect payments for electricity,” Amanullah Ghaleb, the director of the companyږ

“We’re experiencing a huge financial loss … The government can’t go to these areas to collect money, nor can we shut off their electricity since power lines run through those areas,” he said.

“Of course, this is not the case in all districts,” he said. “Afghan security forces are present in most areas of these districts, and we can easily collect electricity payments in a timely manner. There are only a few of these villages where we can’t collect payment.”

The power company has a plan to install large electricity meters in those areas so that locals — “with the help of the Provincial Council, local elders and ethnic leaders — can co-operate with us in collecting money for consumed electricity,” he added.

“Residents of Gulran and Kuhsan districts came to the Provincial Council and told us that the Taliban forcibly collect payments for their electricity consumption,” Kamran Alizai, chairman of the Herat Provincial Council.

“Civilians have promised to do all they can to make their electricity payments to the government. They pay the Taliban only out of fear,” he added.

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