When It All Turns to Custard

We’ve been grounded in Addis Ababa now for 10 days – our journey having come to a grinding halt as two blockages have stymied progress One is delays in getting Sudanese visas which today we hope to clear. The culprit there has been hitting Ethiopia on the eve of their New Millennium when all government departments and embassies shut up shop for a week Then Sudan does not maintain the slickest of visa processes so it’s been a painful dealing with their unresponsive bureaucrats to get all the documents they require for approvals to be granted. Anyway that has now happened and today we expect to walk out of their embassy, visas attached.

But the second cause of our extended visit to Addis Ababa has been the wait for replacement shock absorbers for two of the motorcycles These had to be sent from Germany and because they contain a pressurised fluid reservoir, are classified as dangerous goods and conventional couriers cannot carry them. So, ever resourceful, we had them transported diplomatic cargo to contacts in Addis. They arrived in the country a week ago

But to get them that final 3 kilometres from the airport to the workshop is proving pretty difficult indeed The bureaucrats are blaming delays upon the hangover from the Millennium celebrations but I suspect there’s more to it. Being diplomatic cargo has the added advantage of avoiding duties and it is no doubt a tall ask to have the “Tariff Gestapo” believe that diplomats require motorcycle shock absorbers to carry out their duties!

We don’t give a damn about the duties, it’s the shock absorbers we need to get this show back on the road. But do you think that simple fact is capable of clearing the delays? Of course not, due process has to be followed so the case for tax-free must be put up to Head Office, it must be rejected, we must be told off and then if we pay the taxes and whatever penalties and graft is required, then we might get our shock absorbers in due course.

Meanwhile the team has a decision to make, one it is trying desperately to avoid. What is the drop dead date for this impasse? Are we going to sit here for a month or are we capable of a creative solution? Stay posted.

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