We left Cape Town about a month ago heading for Chavuma, but now we are stuck in Lusaka. It’s been 2 weeks since we arrived here. Philip (our Zambian clearing agent) initially told us it would only take about 3 days to process the importation of our vehicle. Why is it taking so long?
A Change in the plan
Before we left Cape Town, Philip prepared us for the process of importing the vehicle. One of the steps which he described to us made me a little uneasy. He said that when we arrive at the border, we would have to leave the vehicle there and then travel using public transport to Lusaka in order to apply for duty-free status. He said it would take about 3 days in Lusaka to complete all the necessary interviews and applications. After this we would then travel back to Kazungula Border Post and collect our vehicle.
John Leach (missionary in Chavuma) suggested that I inquire whether or not it is possible to get some sort of temporary permit that would allow us to drive the vehicle to Lusaka instead of leaving it at the border for 3 days. Upon inquiry, Philip indicated that there was a way to do this. This pleased me greatly and we initiated this process instead.
A Temporary Import
Arriving at the Kazungula border on Sunday 6 February, we met Philip’s colleague (Julius). Julius and his super helpful assistant (David) helped us to get a unique temporary permit for the vehicle that would allow us to drive it to Lusaka where we would complete the importation process.
Stuck in Lusaka
The temporary import documents that Julius and David helped us get were very effective in enabling us to drive to Lusaka. However, what we didn’t know (but soon found out) is that this temporary import would cause unexpected delays. Upon arrival in Lusaka (with the vehicle) we realised that we now need to change the temporary import document to permanent importation – or ‘Final Clearance’. This application to change it from ‘temporary’ to ‘final’ allegedly takes 5-7 working days. But this is Africa…
We applied for Final Clearance on Tuesday 8 February. Today it is Monday 21 February. We are still waiting. I called Philip this morning to see if there’s any update. He said the document is in the commissioner’s office for signing – it’s been there since Thursday! Apparently the commissioner isn’t in his office.
More Delays to Follow…
Seems we will still be stuck in Lusaka a little while longer. After getting Final Clearance, we will apply for duty-free status, and register the vehicle for use on Zambian roads. This process will take another 3 days!
I really hope that we can get to Chavuma by Sunday (27 February).