Saturday, 24 September 2011

Dealing with the Tanzanian Traffic Cops ("TTCs")

Back in Tanzania, we were stopped a minimum of 3 times a day and maximum 9 times, with three fines in the one day. In case loyal readers are thinking we must be mad men in motor cars, let me tell you this: that each and every one of the cars in our little fleet was stopped and fined multiple times per day while in Tanzania, even the stateliest of our drivers, the Canadians Rob and Wendy in the Kombi van. (aka "Ron and Wendy Kombi", as in, we're now "Gordon" or "Peter Mustang")

Even a local paper, the Guardian (motto: "We did not steal the name from the UK Guardian, promise"), had an op-ed the other day, bemoaning the harassment of motorists by the traffic police.

So, for posterity, here's some thoughts on how to motor through with the fewest fines.  It becomes a game after a while, wondering what they'll pick on next time, and going a day "O for four" (four stops, zero fines) is cause for satisfaction.

Six Strategies for dealing with TTCs:

1.  Park in the middle of the Road: I have Ron Kombi to thank for this one.  Simply stop in the middle of the road and ignore the TTCs.  They're pressured by the traffic build up behind you and wave you on.  That's the theory, anyway.

2. Be polite: this is the default position of Gordon Mustang.  "G'day mate, how are ya?  We're from Oz and on our way to Cairo.  Yeah, she is a nice car!  Wanna drive?" and so on.  This works about 50% of the time.

3.  Be rude: this is the default position of your loyal correspondent (aka, me), Mr Cranky.  "What is this this time?? Enough, already!"  And so on. This also works about 50% of the time.  Alert and maths-literate readers will readily see that a combination might give 100% relief.  In our case is was 3 fines from 18 stops, and of the three fines, 2 were paid "unofficially".

4.  Deny, deny, deny:  This was one I tried with success towards the end, in conjunction with Strategy 1.  Here's the literal conversation:  TTC: "Please pull over to the side of the road".  Me (ignoring TTC request): "what did I do?". TTC: "you crossed a white line back there".  Me: "no,  I didn't".  TTC: "yes, you did".  Me: "prove it".  TTC: "I saw it with mine own eyes".  Me: "no, I didn't, you must be mistaken".  TTC: "OK, on your way then".

5.  Get the TTCs to push-start your car:  This was the strategy of Chris and Sandi Volvo, when they had no  working clutch and had to turn off the engine to stop.  Sandi asked the TTC to push to car to jump start it, which the bemused cop did and waved them on their way.

6.  Sail past, looking the other way: this was the strategy of one of the Nabimii (plural of "Namibian"), Carmen Mercedes, who took Strategy 1 to refined new heights by simply ignoring the upraised hand of the TTC.  Caution on this one: tried in another country, the cops rang through to the next checkpoint and the driver spent a night in jail...

Any more strategies send to me and I'll post for the benefit of future Cape to Cairenes.
Blog reader Peter H comments:  the fines.. we were stopped everywhere, but with local drivers, checking papers.. no fines I saw, no bribes, like you said, supplementing income on visiting tourists.
My comment on Peter H: we'd all have been rather happier, think, if the supplementing were done by means of regular tolls, even one every 100km would be better than the totally arbitrary stops and arbitrary fines on arbitrary alleged infractions.  Of course, there'd be less for bribes unofficial payments...