Wednesday, May 27, 2015

“Some things are just what they are. Deal with them or go home.” ― Peace Corps worker that we really liked

Shaban is spending the day in Musoma running back and forth between the Tanzania Revenue Authority and the Police Station getting our car registered (registration expires June 1st).  It takes all day with a lot of waiting because the official you need to see is always on a break or at lunch or because the police officer you need is off at a funeral and you have wait for his back-up to come in.  It’s not a fun job, takes hours, and costs around $400 for a twenty-year-old car.  You end up with a laminated certificate and a little sticker for the window.  However, since Shaban is driving us to Mwanza next week, dropping us off and coming back in two days to pick us up—that means he would have to pass five police stops in each direction or twenty stops over the two trips.  Not having the current registration costs $30 on the spot at each stop, so by spending $400 now, we save $600 next week and would still have to have the car registered.  They check everything, and here we have to have an approved fire extinguisher in the car, along with reflective triangles to set out if we have a break down on the road.  If you get stopped, it’s $30 for each thing you are missing.  Even if you have a fire extinguisher, it has to have a certificate on it showing that it has been charged in the last six months.  You also have to have an insurance sticker showing you are paid up and a safety sticker.  If you get stopped at a police check point, they check for driver’s license, registration, and all the other stuff.  You could have to pay as much as $180 on the spot if you don’t have all your stuff up to date, so we are careful to make sure we are always completely legal.  We’ve made some police mad because they couldn’t find anything.  All the fines don’t make it back to the station.  It’s especially bad on Fridays as the police prepare for the weekend.  They now have radar traps (four between Musoma and Mwanza) and Fridays as they are stopping almost everyone are called Ijuma Njema which means “Happy Friday” for the police.  You just drive a little slower and more carefully on Fridays.  If you are missing some of the important pieces of paper, they will impound your car on the spot.  There is also a customs stop at Magu where they look for recent purchases that didn’t have the VAT paid and that can cost you as well.  They don’t patrol in cars or carry guns, and they all wear crisp white uniforms and are exceptionally polite, but you can pay a lot of money for overloading a truck, having too many people in your car, and a lot of other things.  All in all, it’s not such a bad system and we’ve adjusted to it.  Several times we will stop even when we have not been pulled over and give water to everyone or give the whole group 10,000 Tsh (about $6.00) to buy food and coffee for everyone.  We only do this now and then, but we get waved right on through a lot of traffic stops, so it doesn’t hurt to be kind, ever.
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