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Bandits openly impose tollbooths on Haiti main roads



By Joseph Guyler C. Delva

Thursday, Feb. 23,  2023


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN)- Criminal gangs in Haiti have decided to openly establish their own tollbooths, to collect money from road users travelling by car or motorcycle, in defiance of police and government authorities, in several parts of in the Caribbean country torn apart by a deep political and humanitarian crisis.


Leaders of several drivers' unions have been denouncing an evil tactic by gangs to extort money from them by imposing on them an illegal toll, which they are forced to pay in exchange for a right to a peaceful passage on the roads they've taken control of.


Passengers often have to pay the equivalent of several hundred US dollars to be allowed to proceed.


"Recently the bandits hijacked two buses, one carrying 30 people and another one with 18 people aboard, and those people had to pay money to be allowed to leave," Mehu Changeux, a drivers' union leader, told HCNN on Thursday.


The criminal gangs have also made a list of the drivers whose vehicles are authorized to go past roadblocks they arbitrarily set up to control traffic.


"The bandits distribute a small card to the drivers that are forced to pay them an amount of money every Saturday," said Changeux, adding

" they also have a form they hand out to drivers who have to subscribe and agree to regularly pay a certain amount of money to buy their right to cross safely certain areas."


"Otherwise, anything can happen. If you try to defy them they are ready to use their weapons."


Several people have already been killed during such incidents over the past months, witnesses say.


Haiti has been mired in an unprecedented political, social and humanitarian chaos for some time now. And observers do not see, for the moment, any sign of improvement in the troubled country's situation.


A 38-year-old driver, Jonas Michel, has explained how organized the gangs are. They have people assigned to different tasks.


"The bandits are very well organized; they want you to pay a fixed amount, if there is one dollar missing, they won't accept it," Michel told HCNN.


" They make you pay whether you carry passengers, goods or not," said Michel, stating that "people driving cars or motorcycles, all have to pay to be allowed to go their way through."


The situation also badly affects the cost of transportation for many people who are requested to pay much more than usual in order to help the driver find enough money to pay additional fees to bandits.


Bandits often hijack truckloads of food products and construction materials. "What is worst is that they operate in broad daylight and are totally unchallenged."


There are several drivers who have refused to become part of this illegal enterprise, which also means they have to leave their vehicles in their garage at home, and to abandon even momentarily their only source of revenue.


"It is practically impossible for us, drivers, to function under such conditions, but given our responsabilities we have to make the sacrifice," Michel told HCNN.


Heavily armed gangsters attacked on Wednesday morning a police station in the L'Etère district in northern Haiti. A group of police officers, who were there, had to flee for their lives, witnesses said.

That's the sixth police station abandoned, over the past weeks, by police officers under gang pressure in the Artibonite region.


Usually gangsters take the initiative to tell drivers to give them money, but others don't even dare to wait to be approached by gangs. Before being confronted, drivers go ahead and collect money among themselves to pay the gangs.


"I don't want to take any risk. Since I know the gangs are going to ask for the money, so I prepare and make sure I have it available on me. Otherwise, I'll be in trouble," Maxime Dupuy, a minibus driver in Saint-Marc, in the northern Artibonite region.


"I have a friend who almost got killed last week for trying to flee a group of bandits who had stopped him at a 'checkpoint' near the Kanaan neighborhood on the northern national road," reported Dupuy.


Bandits, just as the police, set up checkpoints on the roads and they operate openly and without any fear.


"How can you imagine that the bandits operate everyday in broad daylight and in full view of the authorities who have failed to take the least action to stop them," said Dupuy.


The Haitian government, as well as the United Nations Secretary-general, has repeatedly called on the international community to deploy a multinational rapid action force to help cope with the dire security situation in Haiti. A definite decision is yet to be made about such possibility.Bandits openly impose tollbooths on Haiti main roads


By Joseph Guyler C. Delva

Thursday, Feb. 23,  2023


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN)- Criminal gangs in Haiti have decided to openly establish their own tollbooths, to collect money from road users travelling by car or motorcycle, in defiance of police and government authorities, in several parts of in the Caribbean country torn apart by a deep political and humanitarian crisis.


Leaders of several drivers' unions have been denouncing an evil tactic by gangs to extort money from them by imposing on them an illegal toll, which they are forced to pay in exchange for a right to a peaceful passage on the roads they've taken control of.


Passengers often have to pay the equivalent of several hundred US dollars to be allowed to proceed.


"Recently the bandits hijacked two buses, one carrying 30 people and another one with 18 people aboard, and those people had to pay money to be allowed to leave," Mehu Changeux, a drivers' union leader, told HCNN on Thursday.


The criminal gangs have also made a list of the drivers whose vehicles are authorized to go past roadblocks they arbitrarily set up to control traffic.


"The bandits distribute a small card to the drivers that are forced to pay them an amount of money every Saturday," said Changeux, adding

" they also have a form they hand out to drivers who have to subscribe and agree to regularly pay a certain amount of money to buy their right to cross safely certain areas."


"Otherwise, anything can happen. If you try to defy them they are ready to use their weapons."


Several people have already been killed during such incidents over the past months, witnesses say.


Haiti has been mired in an unprecedented political, social and humanitarian chaos for some time now. And observers do not see, for the moment, any sign of improvement in the troubled country's situation.


A 38-year-old driver, Jonas Michel, has explained how organized the gangs are. They have people assigned to different tasks.


"The bandits are very well organized; they want you to pay a fixed amount, if there is one dollar missing, they won't accept it," Michel told HCNN.


" They make you pay whether you carry passengers, goods or not," said Michel, stating that "people driving cars or motorcycles, all have to pay to be allowed to go their way through."


The situation also badly affects the cost of transportation for many people who are requested to pay much more than usual in order to help the driver find enough money to pay additional fees to bandits.


Bandits often hijack truckloads of food products and construction materials. "What is worst is that they operate in broad daylight and are totally unchallenged."


There are several drivers who have refused to become part of this illegal enterprise, which also means they have to leave their vehicles in their garage at home, and to abandon even momentarily their only source of revenue.


"It is practically impossible for us, drivers, to function under such conditions, but given our responsabilities we have to make the sacrifice," Michel told HCNN.


Heavily armed gangsters attacked on Wednesday morning a police station in the L'Etère district in northern Haiti. A group of police officers, who were there, had to flee for their lives, witnesses said.

That's the sixth police station abandoned, over the past weeks, by police officers under gang pressure in the Artibonite region.


Usually gangsters take the initiative to tell drivers to give them money, but others don't even dare to wait to be approached by gangs. Before being confronted, drivers go ahead and collect money among themselves to pay the gangs.


"I don't want to take any risk. Since I know the gangs are going to ask for the money, so I prepare and make sure I have it available on me. Otherwise, I'll be in trouble," Maxime Dupuy, a minibus driver in Saint-Marc, in the northern Artibonite region.


"I have a friend who almost got killed last week for trying to flee a group of bandits who had stopped him at a 'checkpoint' near the Kanaan neighborhood on the northern national road," reported Dupuy.


Bandits, just as the police, set up checkpoints on the roads and they operate openly and without any fear.


"How can you imagine that the bandits operate everyday in broad daylight and in full view of the authorities who have failed to take the least action to stop them," said Dupuy.


The Haitian government, as well as the United Nations Secretary-general, has repeatedly called on the international community to deploy a multinational rapid action force to help cope with the dire security situation in Haiti. A definite decision is yet to be made about such possibility.Bandits openly impose tollbooths on Haiti main roads


By Joseph Guyler C. Delva

Thursday, Feb. 23,  2023


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN)- Criminal gangs in Haiti have decided to openly establish their own tollbooths, to collect money from road users travelling by car or motorcycle, in defiance of police and government authorities, in several parts of in the Caribbean country torn apart by a deep political and humanitarian crisis.


Leaders of several drivers' unions have been denouncing an evil tactic by gangs to extort money from them by imposing on them an illegal toll, which they are forced to pay in exchange for a right to a peaceful passage on the roads they've taken control of.


Passengers often have to pay the equivalent of several hundred US dollars to be allowed to proceed.


"Recently the bandits hijacked two buses, one carrying 30 people and another one with 18 people aboard, and those people had to pay money to be allowed to leave," Mehu Changeux, a drivers' union leader, told HCNN on Thursday.


The criminal gangs have also made a list of the drivers whose vehicles are authorized to go past roadblocks they arbitrarily set up to control traffic.


"The bandits distribute a small card to the drivers that are forced to pay them an amount of money every Saturday," said Changeux, adding

" they also have a form they hand out to drivers who have to subscribe and agree to regularly pay a certain amount of money to buy their right to cross safely certain areas."


"Otherwise, anything can happen. If you try to defy them they are ready to use their weapons."


Several people have already been killed during such incidents over the past months, witnesses say.


Haiti has been mired in an unprecedented political, social and humanitarian chaos for some time now. And observers do not see, for the moment, any sign of improvement in the troubled country's situation.


A 38-year-old driver, Jonas Michel, has explained how organized the gangs are. They have people assigned to different tasks.


"The bandits are very well organized; they want you to pay a fixed amount, if there is one dollar missing, they won't accept it," Michel told HCNN.


" They make you pay whether you carry passengers, goods or not," said Michel, stating that "people driving cars or motorcycles, all have to pay to be allowed to go their way through."


The situation also badly affects the cost of transportation for many people who are requested to pay much more than usual in order to help the driver find enough money to pay additional fees to bandits.


Bandits often hijack truckloads of food products and construction materials. "What is worst is that they operate in broad daylight and are totally unchallenged."


There are several drivers who have refused to become part of this illegal enterprise, which also means they have to leave their vehicles in their garage at home, and to abandon even momentarily their only source of revenue.


"It is practically impossible for us, drivers, to function under such conditions, but given our responsabilities we have to make the sacrifice," Michel told HCNN.


Heavily armed gangsters attacked on Wednesday morning a police station in the L'Etère district in northern Haiti. A group of police officers, who were there, had to flee for their lives, witnesses said.

That's the sixth police station abandoned, over the past weeks, by police officers under gang pressure in the Artibonite region.


Usually gangsters take the initiative to tell drivers to give them money, but others don't even dare to wait to be approached by gangs. Before being confronted, drivers go ahead and collect money among themselves to pay the gangs.


"I don't want to take any risk. Since I know the gangs are going to ask for the money, so I prepare and make sure I have it available on me. Otherwise, I'll be in trouble," Maxime Dupuy, a minibus driver in Saint-Marc, in the northern Artibonite region.


"I have a friend who almost got killed last week for trying to flee a group of bandits who had stopped him at a 'checkpoint' near the Kanaan neighborhood on the northern national road," reported Dupuy.


Bandits, just as the police, set up checkpoints on the roads and they operate openly and without any fear.


"How can you imagine that the bandits operate everyday in broad daylight and in full view of the authorities who have failed to take the least action to stop them," said Dupuy.


The Haitian government, as well as the United Nations Secretary-general, has repeatedly called on the international community to deploy a multinational rapid action force to help cope with the dire security situation in Haiti. A definite decision is yet to be made about such possibility.

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