This morning we were woken by strong wind, thunder and rain. After showering and breakfasting in Poki, I couldn’t open our hotel room door to get back into our room. It’s a rusty old key and Dennis has already applied CRC to the lock a couple of times. Dennis couldn’t get the door to open either, so we called someone from the hotel reception. He was unable to gain access either. Dennis had to climb in through a window to unlock the door from the inside.
Dennis returned to Poki for some tools and proceeded to disassemble the lock. Have completely reassembled it and re-oiled it, the key now turned again.
Oh dear, now a set back to our travel plans. Adam has been corresponding with a shipping agent in Namibia. The agent has advised Adam if he ships his Land Rover into Namibia he will have problems, as his South African registration has expired. His Land Rover cannot be driven in any Southern African countries. It will have to be put on a truck and driven to South Africa to renew his South African registration.
What to do? Adam has asked the shipping company to quote for two 20 ft containers, one to Walvis Bay for us and the other for his vehicle to Durban.
The previous evening Adam had been contacted by the shipping company saying we must pay the Customs taxes directly to the Customs Tax Office. The office is on the other side of the city. Lome is a very spread out city. It’s not unattractive compared to some West African capitals. It is fronted by beautiful sandy beaches. The central area has some very intense market streets. Packed with people and selling everything you can possibly imagine.
We decided we needed to take a route to the Customs Office avoiding the road past the presidential palace. We did not want another encounter with the police there. A few kilometres down the road we were stopped at a red light. I had my phone in my hand as I was directing us using Google-Maps.
A policeman saw me with my phone. He came bounding over with a huge grin on his face. Such glee. A foreigner I can fleece for using the phone while driving. As he approached my window his face dropped as he realised I wasn’t driving. The steering wheel was on the other side. At least he had a sense of humour when he realised his mistake. He asked us where we were going. Dennis said “South Africa”. Still smiling, he wished us a good journey.
Generally the Togolese people are very welcoming and friendly. The police however, are something else. Probably the worst we have come across, with the exception of those in a Dakar.
Parking at the Customs Office is in an unsurfaced road full of deep puddles. We were double parked so Dennis stayed with the vehicles while Adam and I went into the office. We were directed to an office on the second floor, then passed around to three other offices before being taken to yet another office on the third floor. Here we found a gentleman who seemed to have some sort of an idea of what we wanted.
He called our shipping agent and after a discussion between them, we were advised that the agent would collect the tax from us and remit it to Customs. A completely wasted journey. We decided to go back to our shipping agent’s office.
On the way back we had to be careful to avoid the road past the presidential palace again. Adam was following us, but stopped us as he thought we were going the wrong way. We then followed him. Not a wise move as his navigation took us into the market streets. Almost impossible to drive through with so many people, market stalls, people pulling trolleys and cars trying to get through in both directions.
We lost Adam but managed to find our way to the shipping agent’s office. We waited for a while. No sign of Adam so we went back to our hotel. Adam was already back there cursing “that woman” on his phone who had take us into the market streets.
After lunch we had a discussion about our travel plans. Adam had been advised by the shipping agent that they could not provide high capacity 20 ft containers to transport the Land Rovers. So, what to do? The logical thing would be to ship both Land Rovers in a 40 ft high capacity container to Durban. We asked the agent for another quote for Durban instead of Walvis Bay.
This is My house!
Later we received the new quote. It is obviously more as the distance is further, but not excessively so. There is a ship on 19th and it takes 22 days to reach Durban. We have arranged a meeting with the agent at 10.00am on Monday when we hope to sign the contract, make payment and have all the logistical details relating to the loading etc. I think we must be making progress.