A Traffic Violation in Tanzania


I am in Tanzania. I’m keeping a very low profile in my village. As is the case, time is running–fast. Faster than I would like it to. I have been detained (at a local secondary school for taking pictures without permission), questioned (at a local dispensary for again taking pictures of the surrounding environment), and asked to tell who I was twice for minding my business. In a one week time living in a rural village in Tanzania, I have been asked to bribe the traffic police officials more than 5 times.  If this is not indicative of how corrupt officials are in this country, then, I do not know what is. With my outside eyes, it is quite fascinating to see how things-run over here.

Here is a snap-shot of a conversation I had with a traffic officer somewhere in Morogoro.

Traffic officer: Can I check your motorcycle sir?

Me: Go right ahead sir.

Traffic officer: You are missing one important document sir.

Me: What document? If I may ask.

Traffic Officer: You don’t have insurance sir.

Me: Let me check to make sure that I really don’t have it. I looked on some pockets and fished out an insurance card. Here is an insurance card officer.

Traffic officer: Let me continue to inspect your motorcycle and when I am finished, I will let you go sir.

Me: Take your time.

Traffic officer: The rear indicator light is not working.

Me: okay

Traffic officer: It is a Tshs 32,000.00 (~$20) offence sir.

Me: Write me the ticket.

Traffic officer: Do you understand it is 32,000Tshs?

Me: Yes, just write a ticket. I will go to the police station pay for it.

Traffic Officer: You know you can just pay me a little amount of money and you can go on with your day.

Me: Yes I know. I just want to pay the fine and then, I will fix my rear indicator light officer.

Traffic officer: Can I see your driving license?

Me: Yes officer—here it is.

Traffic officer:  Reading my driving license….mmmh! Just give me 10000Tshs and I will let you go. No problems.

Me: I would rather pay the fine officer—just write me the ticket.

Traffic officer: Just find me some money in your pockets.

Me: I don’t have any money with me. I can go pay the fine at the police station if you write the ticket though.

Traffic officer: See me later. You can go now. I became a nuisance to him. He was not able to stop others while I was standing there recording our conversation. In addition, he was not able to ask for bribes from the other motorists he stopped before he stopped me.

Me: Where is the ticket?

Traffic officer: I ‘m not going to write you one. Just see me when you come back.

Me: Thank you officer….and I left him standing there. He has not gotten any money out of me. I was very proud of myself.

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12 thoughts on “A Traffic Violation in Tanzania

  1. Charles Sangweni

    My friend,
    Good luck that you were not in hurry! sometimes its worth to bribe so that you can meet your appointments and schedule, otherwise they can retain you for a couple of hours. Thats how it is, and our leaders always pretend that they are not aware of this corruption! damn it

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    1. Interesting take! I am going no where. I am here to kill time anyway. They can detain me for as long as they want.

      After I sat there for awhile. It was impossible for them to pocket money from others–so they let me go.

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  2. It’s an interesting Issue I agree with Charles, when you have a really important appointment to keep it is difficult to stand on principles. However, corruption is a thing much to serious to be ignored, just so you can make it in time…

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  3. Josephat

    Hello Shabaan, it is so sad my brother. I had the same experince last time i was home. In 2010 I was in my village where I grew up. I wanted to take a picture of the village dispensary, I had to get a permission from Ward and village secretary. They call them mtendaji wa kata na kijiji. The chief medical officer had told me to get permission from the district medical officer! I’m like just a picture of the village dispensary building, for me i was proud to have it since when i was little I used to get treatment from the dispensary. Anyway i love my Tanzania regardless but sometimes i get upset!

    Like

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