Day 104. Monday 3rd April. Lome.Togo.

We have been waiting for this day. The day that we confirm our vehicle shipping arrangements and can plan with some certainty, the remainder of our African journey. Mmmmm.

Our appointment at the offices of Bollore’, our shipping agents, is scheduled for 10am. We are there and waiting, on the dot. Are you following Kelvin?

The salesman was there, in the room with his female sales manager and the meeting proceeds amicably and positively. We establish that the ship is leaving Lome on the 19th of April. That the container will be in their depot ready for us to insert the vehicles into the container and be present when the doors are closed and locked on Monday 10th of April. I wonder if that will happen as it’s Easter Monday?

Then we come to discussing the absolute requirement, before we sign anything, for us to have an invoice for every conceivable expense. We want no situations where the vehicle is locked in a container and they find a new charge. They agree that we have that already. There is just the matter of Customs. First Customs need to establish the valuation of your vehicles. “Yes, they came out and did that at our hotel, along with the Bollore’ salesman, a week ago and here is a copy of his valuation”. “Ah”!, they respond, “that’s not the True valuation and before we can give you the True valuation, you will have to pay the first valuation, CFA49,000 for us and CFA81,000 for Adam”. Which it seems, is not a valuation at all! Confused? Smell a rat?

You couldn’t make it up if you tried. They, Bollore’ spent the next 40minutes trying to explain something they had no Idea of what they were talking about. Most of the discussions were being carried out in English, at our request, for which we were very grateful. However, we were making absolutely no progress. Some of the discussion revert to French from which Adam translates.

In the end we convince them that the only way forward for us, is if we visit Customs at the port to understand the process so far and establish a final taxation or duty before we will sign a contract, and pay them any fees. We agree that we go now to Customs. The salesman accompanies us. First we visit an office where we meet the guy who came out and did the valuation at the hotel. At a meeting with Adam, they specifically requested Jen & I not take part in the meeting, the Bollore’ salesman and Tax man and his boss discuss valuations. The conclusion, we will have to pay the first valuation before they will give us the real valuation.

The only consolation, could it be worse both getting into and across Nigeria?

We then visit another Customs office to pay the initial valuation. It’s closed. So we pay the Bollore’ salesman the two amounts, CFA49,000 and CFA 81,000 in cash. All without a receipt for him to pay customs when the Customs office reopens. He assures us he will email us a receipt, today. Many hours later, he does.

It seems now, they (Customs) are going to email us a final valuation, this afternoon. The Bollore salesman keeps saying “don’t worry, it will be very little”. but he had no idea what it will be. It duly arrives and the tax is another CFA112,016. More than twice the original amount. This is apparently, Togo law!

I have to say, that in the meeting with Bollore’ staff, I was less than patient with my hosts. My questions were direct, and they couldn’t answer them. I’m afraid I have little tolerance for being shafted and having to pay. Adam and Jen between them, managed to keep the way ahead open. Well done them. Now is not the time to loose your rag. We have to get out of here!

I thought the following photo appropriate. It’s at the entrance to the port. They all drive past it to go to work. Every day. “There is no corruption here,” I hear an imaginary voice saying.

There are so many more answers to our questions that need clarification. We are attempting to hold another meeting with our agents, tomorrow morning to get those answers, but it’s a bit like trying to catch a greasy pig.

I recall the whole process of shipping from Vladivostok to Vancouver, seamless and trouble free. Likewise shipping from Mexico back to the UK. The only difference, this is Africa.

The saga continues tomorrow.

Visits: 86


  1. Africa is full of surprises! Isn’t that why you wanted to go there?

    • Hi John, We will remember it like no other. Better day today..:) It’s not the agent, but Customs that we don’t understand…:)

  2. Oh dear, the agents presume that they have got you by the short curlies. Good luck x 🐝

  3. Just to let you know we do keep an eye on your page. We (RVVCC) have bought a new humongous TV for the club. So hope your camera is working well. All the best going forward.
    Geoff & Christine

  4. Hey Guy’s, WOW….better brush up on my filming skill…:)
    Great to hear from you Geoff & Christine and very best to all at the club.

    Us 🙂

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