KABUL – Afghan authorities continued on Sunday to implement a new security plan in the country’s capital following several recent vehicle bomb attacks that have left dozens dead, a strategy that may have made some feel that security has increased, while many others complain that it has also exacerbated the city’s traffic problems.
After the two attacks this year that claimed more than 100 lives, particularly the explosives-rigged ambulance attack on Jan. 27 which killed 103, authorities have decided to implement a new security system for Kabul.
The new plan, which is already being applied in its initial stages but will be officially launched next week, changes the traditional approach by replacing permanent checkpoints with mobile controls.
“Unlike in the past, we are now establishing temporary controls based on daily needs. Now we have fewer permanent points than earlier,” Kabul police spokesperson Basir Mujahid told EFE on Sunday.
These temporary checkpoints would remain active just for a few hours before moving to another location, he added.
In addition, their number will not be fixed and will vary from hour to hour, so that there are either more or fewer controls than earlier, depending on the needs determined by the authorities.
The plan includes surveillance of accesses from the different neighborhoods that were traditionally not monitored, and the reinforcement of control at the main entrances to Kabul through its four gates.
“The checkpoints that have been established in different points of Kabul are temporary and we understand that it is also generating a traffic problem at some level,” a spokesperson for the interior ministry, Najib Danish, acknowledged to EFE while explaining that there were three levels of security in the city’s surroundings.
Kabul has become a major target of the Taliban and Islamic State terror organizations, which have committed mass attacks in recent years with increasing intensity and frequency.
In May last year, a bomb-laden truck exploded on a street in Kabul, leaving 150 dead and hundreds wounded in the worst attack in the country’s recent history.
This week, the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in its annual report on the conflict’s civilian casualties that the number of deaths and injuries in suicide bombings had increased by 17 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, with a total of 2,295 victims (605 dead and 1,690 wounded).
This is the highest number recorded since 2009, when UNAMA began computing these data.
But for Kabul residents, insecurity is generating additional inconveniences.
Local resident Basir Ahmad said that life has become much more difficult with the new controls.
“In addition to walls and barriers, they have now also closed some streets to traffic. Every day I have to walk miles to get to my destination,” he said.
In his opinion, the closure of streets will not lead anywhere, because what the government should do instead is reinforce security agencies, although he did believe that access points to the city must be controlled.
For Mustafa Qadar, a taxi driver in Kabul, security forces have failed to capture terrorists and succeeded in increasing difficulties for the local population.
“Every day we wait hours to reach our destination, some days customers get fed up with the jam and prefer to walk instead of waiting hours inside the taxi,” said Qadar.
According to Qadar, such measures only affect common people and not President Ashraf Ghani or Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who, in his opinion, are trying to cover up their failure in security by putting more controls for the common people.
“Ghani and Abdullah will not suffer the blockade of streets, we the poor are the ones who suffer,” he said.