SHANGLA: Sand suppliers blocked the Karakoram Highway for two hours here on Saturday, seeking exemption from taxes imposed by the provincial mining department through a local contractor.
The transporters came onto the KKH after being asked by the local men of the contractor to pay the tax as they claimed that the contractor had promised not to receive taxes from them till next week.
The protest was led by Firdos and Shah Jehan, the transporters’ union office-bearers.
Speaking to the protesters, they claimed that while the federal government had exempted the people of Malakand division from taxes till 2023, the mining department had sent its contractor to Shangla to collect levies from the people.
They said about 500 vehicles transported sand to different projects, including those being executed under the CPEC, adding over 1,000 labourers were associated with the job, but imposition of taxes might render them jobless.
The transport union leaders said they had suspended supply to government and civil projects across Shangla, Kohistan, Battagram and Torgher in view of the strike because they could not afford taxes.
They said according to a jirga decision they won’t pay a single penny to the mining department.
Due to blockade of the KKH, hundreds of vehicles were stuck on both sides of the road. Later, the police baton charged the protesters to disperse them, injuring two of them.
Hayat Khan, a district councillor from Maira who was present on the occasion, told The Northern Post that Maira was the biggest sand production site but the government was illegally imposing taxes on the sand suppliers on each trip.
He said the mining department should withdraw the tax as the Malakand division was exempted from taxes till 2023.