I spent 2/5ths of the last week trying to get a new Tz. Driver’s license. The issue was my old one had expired, and then I managed to leave it in the US when we left. I am very thankful that in this whole process I had my Swahili teacher with me, to assist me, ensuring I knew what was going on. I did pretty well at explaining myself and understanding what other people were saying, most of the folks were kind, and spoke slowly.
Thursday, the first order of business was to see what could be done about having lost my license (regardless of the fact it was expired). We went down to the police station and I explained (apparently successfully) to the two ladies in the office that I had lost my license, and “begged” them for “ushauri” (advice). They were quite nice. They told me what to do. I had to go get my copy of my old license paperwork, back in our guest house (which I nearly threw away several times in the past 4 years, thinking, why on earth would i keep this…), but to get into our room, I had to get the key from Jamie who was at a play group somewhere in Iringa. So once I tracked her down, and got it we returned to the police. So we went upstairs to the two ladies in the accounting office, and I explained that I had lost my license in America, but that it had expired also. No big deal, they said, please pay 500 shillings ($0.33) for a fine, and then go back to where I was downstairs, and wait for the other police man to give me a “losti” report, once I showed him the receipt I had been given by them. So we went downstairs again. And I queued for perhaps 45mins with 6 other guys. My teacher was suprised at the fact that there were so few people queueing. He asked them why, they said the “network” was down. Presumably this was the new fangled electronic drivers license system, which Tanzania has recently put into place. No network, means no line, and no licenses. But that didn’t matter for me for the time being. So, I eventually saw the police man, he told me I didn’t know swahili, and that people after a week, should know swahili…blah blah blah….heres your “losti” report. Now take this to TRA (the governemt revenue authority) and apply for a license like usual. It was already 12:00, so after going to TRA to get the application form, we were done for the day. END of Day 1.
Day 2: We started out with my completed application (filled it in last night) at TRA. We queued for about an hour and a half. Then finally we got in the room, and all lined up there for another 45 minutes. Once it was finally my turn, they took my details (having some trouble becuase I was using my passport as ID not the normal TIN number), and put them into the system/network (which was back up and running today). Then they told me to go the police station where I was yesterday to get confirmation from them. So we drove back across town as we did the day before and queued there for 2 hours or more, in the sun. There were about 40 people there. I was actually in the front of the line, btu still took over 2 hours. Eventually it was my turn to see the same guy who told me I didn’t speak swahili blah blah blah…but he was so busy that day that he just filled the paper work out and that was the end of that. Then he said go to the “other” office. Once we found out where the “other” office was we walked 20 steps across a little courtyard and talked to the head of the traffic “polisi” or “trafici”, who then told us to go the next office, to confirm my details in “the system”. We waited there for several minutes, then were ushered in to a room, and some lady punched a bunch of stuff into the computer. She seemed annoyed by my presense, but then eventually told me, go to TRA. So we drove back across town and waited in the same hallway for perhaps an hour or more for magic door number 6 to open again, and to be called. When we were called (those who want to pay!) there was a mad rush for the door, me and 20 other people. I managed to slip in, but then queued for perhaps half an hour while the other 20 guys got their payment slips. Once it was my turn, the guy using “the system” this time, couldn’t find my details in the system. He looked and looked and asked me several times if i took a picture and fingerprints. I said yes, yes, yes…. he said wait. He asked I said yes, he said wait. Then the lady who had helped me earlier was called in and she told the man how to find my details (because my passport number started with a 0 not a 7). But then the printer jammed and wouldn’t print my payment slip. They couldn’t figure out what to do. They eventually tried turning it off and on again and out came 4 copies of my payment slip. Then I took the payment slip and rushed to the bank, to pay. I couldn’t pay there I had to pay at the bank at which the TZ govt banked so we drove for a while and then arrived there. This bank was the only place I didn’t have to queue. In fact, because we went to the right branch, there was noone else there. SO after 10 minutes of waiting they finally helped me, and I got my precious reciept. And back to TRA I went for a third…no fourth…no fifth time, I think…..and then waited with a bunch of other guys, who I had been hanging out with since 9 that morning. By this time it was about 2pm. After about 45 minutes of being pressed into this little hallway, by door number 6, it opened and the lady said “who has paid.” My teacher yelled from the back of the pack, and we proceeded to weave through the crowd to deliver our reciept and application which we still had, and losti report, etc etc. and walk away trumphantly. It only took 10 hours or so. And we did it in two days, most people take about a week…..oh and by the way, after we handed her the paper work she told us to come back after two weeks for the printed license.