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Afghan contractors have warned they will halt projects contracted with the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) if rampant corruption of local officials asking for bribes from development projects does not stop.

Contractors working in multiple provinces of Afghanistan told a Kabul conference for road construction contractors that they are forced to comply with bribe requests or otherwise nothing would get done.

"Everybody rules their area. Provincial governors are rulers and their requests should be done otherwise not only would they not cooperate, but they would also cause problems for the projects," said Naqibullah, a ministry contractor.

"Where we work is about 60 hours of land-travel to Kabul. It would take at least two months for the problem to be reviewed. That is why we do what they ask to avoid disruption of work," said another contractor, Sher Mohammad.

The bribe demands come from every sector of power in the province, contractors told TOLOnews. District governors, police commanders, elders of tribes, and other powerful groups all ask for money where they can.

Wais Barmak, Minister of MRRD, said the government, including the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Interior, is aware of the problem and is seeking ways to address it.

"This problem is present within all the infrastructure projects," he told the contractors. "We will collect documents and will send it to the president. If the local officials continue with this shameful act, there will be serious decisions taken against them."

It is believed that asking for bribes from development projects has become a lucrative source of income for some officials, so the government's attempts to stop it are facing strong resistance.

At the conference, the ministry and the contractors signed agreements for the implementation of nine road construction projects worth more than $3.8 million in provinces of Kapisa, Nangarhar, Badakhshan, Samangan, Jawzjan, and Baghlan.

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