Today I became the proud owner of a third photo-card driving licence (although admittedly the Ohio one is out of date!). It surprises me that here in Tanzania things have moved on to something so modern ... last time I lived here it was a cardboard little booklet with a photo glued in.
The process to obtain one of these little beauties in Tanzania is quite the experience though!
In the States, all it takes is a reasonably straight forward visit to the local BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) and you leave with a brand new licence. They take your details and your photo and make the card up for you there and then.
In the UK, you fill out the forms, send it all off and receive a shiny new licence in the post a little while afterwards!
Here in Tanzania, the process really is something else!
Firstly, a trip to the TRA (Tanzania Revenue Authority) to fill out the forms and have your information put on the computer. Then a trip to the police station on the other side of the town to have the forms checked on their computer system, stamped and the classifications added. Then a drive back across town to the TRA again to have the licence processed and to get an invoice. After that you take the invoice to the bank to pay for the licence and then return several days later to the TRA to actually collect the licence, plus a final trip back to the police station to return the forms to them! Simple really!
We had a few extra steps in our process. The initial police man we saw stamped our forms but forgot to input the data on the computer, so when we returned to the TRA to get the licence processed and the invoice printed, they were unable to do so until the system had been updated. The trip back to the police station then found the officers having their chai break (tea break) requiring an extra wait before being able to get them to do what they should have done in the first place!
We started the process a week ago and it required a lot of to-ing and fro-ing by us and two other members of MAF staff to actually get the licences (one for me and one for Mark) in our hands ... but it is one more thing on our 'To Do' list ticked off now! The experience itself was just part and parcel of getting into the swing of African life and culture really!
Just doing something that is supposed to be reasonably simple without Tanzanian assistance would have been a nightmare. We were glad to have the help of national MAF staff to walk us through each step of it.
It also helps us a little, in understanding why processing our visa is proving so difficult, as we can see how nothing is what it seems or particularly straight forward here. I am very grateful that the all the documentation and other bits and pieces in the processing of our container is being done by others on our behalf as I can imagine it will be a much more elaborate 'game' to play!!