15 September 2010

Ahhh yes, The Saga of the Vehicle. I’m sorry if you’re getting bored reading about something so mundane as my attempts to get number plates for the truck. The truth is, this is part of the start up process in Rwanda. I could paint a picture that everything goes smoothly and quickly, but I’m choosing instead to give you the day-by-day details. And, getting number plates has been quite critical to being able to explore the city and surrounding areas in search of a factory location. Having talked with probably a dozen traffic police officers over the past three weeks, I’ve deemed it best not to drive around excessively without the plates. So, here’s the latest.

There’s no way around purchasing comprehensive vehicle insurance in return for the guaranty bond. So, that’s right at $1,300 per year (less than the $1,500 we were anticipating … woo hoo!). It’s not unreasonable given that I was paying about $1,000 per year for our Tahoe in the States. The difference, however, is that I have to pay the $1,300 in advance (coverage is for Jan-Dec 2011), whereas in the States I could pay $85 per month. So, we agreed to the insurance and secured the bond. Our clearing agent then took the bond paperwork to customs to clear the vehicle and secure the elusive number plates. Alas …

Customs accepted the bond but said that I had to have a work permit before they would complete the registration process. So, I called RDB, and it turns out that the Rwanda Immigration Department (known here as “Migration”) has a desk exactly two desks down from the RDB representative who handled all of our business registration paperwork. I asked for the list of required documents and set out for RDB to apply for the work permit.

You might have guessed that the list I was given on the phone was not inclusive, so when I arrived at RDB/Migration I was missing three documents. And the passport photos that I had with me (and that had been accepted by the bank when setting up bank accounts) were not acceptable: The background was not white enough. I was directed to a place in town (“Go to the Bank of Kigali and go down from there.”) to get proper photographs. After thoroughly reviewing the List of Required Documents with the Migration official, I set off to get the photos. That turned out being an easy process and within 30 minutes I had eight new passport photos in hand, all with a very white background. By now, however, it was after 5pm, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to go back to RDB with all paperwork in hand.

When I got home, Johnna had prepared an amazing dish of broccoli stir fry, and for dessert she made homemade banana bread. I’m so glad home is a respite!

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