The most important thing I have learned since we have been in West Africa, is that to live here you need to have patience. An abundant supply of it. Today, the most immense amount of patience has been required.
We have spent the entire day from 0800 this morning until 1730 this evening finalising the shipping arrangements for Poki and Zikit. Most of that time has been spent waiting.
Stanley came to pick us up and took us back to Bollore’s yard and the shipping container where Poki and Zikit were loaded last night. The ratchet straps duly arrived and the vehicles were securely lashed, front and back. Adam took photographs, at the request of the receiving agent in Durban, to show how the vehicles have been secured.
We then had to wait for Customs to come and secure the container. After waiting around the container for a while, Stanley suggested we would be more comfortable sitting in their office. Adam hadn’t had any breakfast and made a comment that a cup of coffee would be nice
Stanley took us to the meeting room where we proceeded to wait. Shortly after he returned with 3 very strong cups of espresso coffee. Dennis, not drinking coffee, divided his between Adam and I. Adam had internet on his phone so we passed the time with him reading us posts from the various West African Facebook and WhatsApp forums.
The Customs man turned up at about 11.30 and we went back to the yard. After some discussions and checking the lashing, the container doors were shut and the Customs seal put in place. The truck then manoeuvred it’s way out of the yard and was off to the port. The Customs officer took our Carnet to be signed by his boss.
By this time we were all hungry so Stanley took us in his car to a fruit stall where we bought bananas, oranges, a pineapple and what I thought was a papaya – it subsequently turned out to be an enormous mango. Stanley was going to take us back to our hotel and then bring the signed Carnet to us later. Rather than him make two journeys, we said we would wait for the Carnet.
We returned to Bollore’s meeting room and lunched on fruit. Stanley later brought us some bread rolls. The signing and stamping of the Carnet takes about a minute. The Customs office isn’t too far away, so we didn’t expect the process to take long.
We sat and we waited. At about 1430 Stanley came and apologised for the delay. The Customs Chief had gone out. No further progress, so at 1630 I went to Stanley’s office to ask if perhaps someone else in Customs could sign the Carnet. Not possible. However, he would phone Customs again to check if there was any progress. Hooray, the Customs Chief was in the process of signing.
Just after 1700 Stanley came to the meeting room with the signed and stamped Carnet. The whole afternoon had been wasted waiting. What a relief though. Everything for the shipping is now complete. All that remains is for the container to be loaded on to the Port Gdynia and for the ship to arrive safely in Durban.
Tomorrow, all being well, we will fly out of here.