Badghis municipality sinks in disarray as mayor escaped prosecution

Accused of being involved in corruption, Qadeer Kamran, the mayor of Qal-e-Naw, the capital city of Badghis province, has left the province leaving Badghis municipality in complete disarray, local sources told Kabul Now.

Hessamuddin Shams, Badghis governor, said that the mayor has not shown up to his office for the last two months as he had been accused of a corruption scandal. “The mayor does not show up to his office. The Anti-Corruption Justice Center found him suspected of being involved in a criminal case.”

No one knows about his whereabouts.

Abdul Aziz Bieg, a member of Badghis Provincial Council, claims that Mr. Kamran has used his connection in the capital Kabul to evade corruption cases charged against him. “Those who commit corruption spend money to build the required connections in the capital of the country. Qala-e-Naw mayor is incompetent and everyone did complain about him,” the provincial councilman asserted. He further went on to say that Mr. Kamran became a fugitive after President Ghani ordered authorities to detain government officials involved in corruption. “First, he took a 20-day leave as if he is patient and would go outside of Qala-e-Naw for receiving medical treatment. Now, he has shut all his phone numbers and it [looks like] he is out of the country.”

Kabul Now also could not reach Mr. Kamran to have his comments regarding the allegations.

After passing a competitive exam held for selection of mayor-ship, President Ghani appointed Mr. Kamran as mayor of Qala-e-Naw in September 2016. On his visits to the province, Ghani praised his mayor for what he described as a hardworking young mayor, according to the member of Badghis Provincial Council. “Describing the mayor as her [adopted] son, the President’s spouse, Rula Ghani, bought him an armored vehicle,” Mr. Beig claimed, speculating that he must have sold the armored vehicle.

Kabul Now, however, could not verify it.

Municipality is dysfunctional

Employees of Qala-e-Naw municipality closed it on Monday, April 26, to protest a three-month delay in payment of their salaries.

Official undertakings have been disrupted as the city is filled with garbage and the irrigation system is interrupted, says Nader Shah, an employee of Qala-e-Naw municipality. “Qadeer Kamran is out of the city and has not resigned. The municipality’s vehicles are damaged but we cannot withdraw money [to repair them]. Mohammad Ishaq Wassiq was working as caretaker but he stopped [working as caretaker] for not having the required authority,” the municipality’s employee said.

He warned that they will not resume work until the government appoints an authoritative mayor for they even cannot debit a 5,000 afghani for official spending.

The closure of the municipality has created many challenges for Badghis residents.

“I built a house in Qala-e-Naw. Now, I have to provide its electricity and water but the municipality is closed. The municipality’s employees must work in the interest of the people, not to harm them,” says Gul Mohammad, 45, who had come to the municipality to obtain official permission for electricity and water supply to his house.

Mr. Beig also says that the municipality is dysfunctional in the absence of the mayor and many of its vehicles need to be repaired. “No one does their job properly when there is no mayor. A new mayor should be introduced for Qala-e-Naw as soon as possible,” the councilman asserted.

Badghis governor also confirmed that the municipality’s employees have not received their salaries and privileges in the last three months. He, however, assured that the employees will end their strike by end of this week and the municipality will restart its operation next week. “Absence of the mayor has not stalled implementation of the projects in the city. The employees must receive their salaries for that’s why they have gone on strike,” the governor said.

Mr. Beig, meanwhile, noted that several residents of the province have sent applications to the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, applying to become caretaker of the municipality.

Some contractors also complain

Some contractors, who have been responsible for implementing development projects in Qala-e-Naw, complain that they have suffered financial losses due to the absence of the mayor and as a result, they have yet to receive their payments.

Nader Aymaq, director of Hanzal Construction Company, who has completed the construction of a development project worth more than 18 million afghanis, claims that they have not received their payment though the project was completed one year ago. He calls on the government to pay it so they would be able to pay their debts. “At the end of 1399 Fiscal Year, they said that the municipality had not the sufficient budget in its account. Now, that the money is transferred to the municipality’s account, the mayor is not present to pay our money,” he complained.

Badghis residents urge the government to appoint a new mayor for Qala-e-Naw. They also call on the judicial system to punish Kamran.