Government checkpoints impose amount on olive oil transporting to Syria’s Aleppo

ALEPPO, Syria (North Press) – Farmers and people from the northern countryside of Aleppo said that the Syrian government checkpoint of the 4th Armoured Division, north of Aleppo city, provoked them when they tried to transfer olive oil cans to the city.

A month ago, the government issued a decision with the beginning of the olive harvest, banning the transfer of olive oil to Aleppo, a well informed source told North Press.

What angered the residents even more was when the checkpoint banned the entry of any olive oil cans, even if the quantity was for home use and not for trade.

Hamza Abu Ahmed (a pseudonym), a resident from Zahraa town in the northern Aleppo countryside, was forced to pay 14 Syrian pounds (SYP) to the checkpoint, which was known as Tarasim (customs checkpoint), in order to transfer two olive oil cans to his children living in Aleppo.

“They stopped my car and asked me to enter the customs checkpoint, where they asked me either to pay 7,000 SYP for each can, or they would return the cans to the town,” Abu Ahmed told North Press.

The ban deprived many farmers and olive traders of profiting from their production in the markets of Aleppo.

Abu Dyab Akrash (a pseudonym), a resident from Byanon in the northern Aleppo countryside, said that he was forced to wait for three hours at the customs checkpoint, but he was not allowed to move until he paid 75 SYP for six olive oil cans.

“I am not allowed to transfer my production to Aleppo due to the greediness of big traders who are close to the checkpoint soldiers and monopolized the oil,” Akrash added.

Local olive oil traders said that some traders, who are known, were allowed to transfer oil and olives.

Abu Omar Samman (a pseudonym), an oil trader from Dier Jamal town, said that most oil and olive traders in the northern Aleppo countryside could not work due to the issued decision.

Additionally, the checkpoint imposes more than 10,000 SYP for each oil can for trading, increasing the sale price in the market.

“Some traders who are close to government officials monopolized oil trading and deprived small traders from making profit,” he added.

He pointed out that the price of each oil can that enters from Afrin to Aleppo through the Abu Zebdain crossing, which is between the opposition-held areas and the government-held areas in the countryside of Bab east Aleppo, reached 100,000 SYP.

“The olive oil can in Afrin is sold for 65 SYP, add to it 20 SYP fees for the security checkpoints,” he added.

Reporting by Jan Hadid