Before my life as a missionary, I was a business process analyst with one of the biggest employers in the state of South Carolina. My job basically was to go into different departments, analyze how they were doing things, identify bottlenecks and waste and recommend how to improve processes and save money.
So, to say that Zambia has sometimes been a shock to my analytical brain would be an understatement. Case in point, today! We are going to have to replace the transmission on our car soon and it's just too expensive to do it here in Zambia. So, our plan is to drive to Johannesburg to get the work done. But in order to drive across the border, you have to get INTERPOL clearance. This basically shows authorities of different countries that the car isn't stolen and the owner has given permission for its travel across the border.
You would think it would be easy to get such paperwork, but not in Zambia. After gathering the required copies (vehicle registration, driver's license, etc.) I headed to the Road Traffic department in Lusaka. Here, they verified that my VIN and engine number's matched the registration certificate. No complaints here. It was pretty straight forward. But that's where logic ended. Instead of going inside to pay, I was sent across town to a different road traffic department. There, I paid at one counter and was handed another form.
Instead of this person being able to give me the necessary stamp, he sent me across the building to another desk where this person was supposed to stamp the paperwork. After waiting for what seemed like an hour, the guy finally took my paperwork and stamped it. I was done right? I would just turn my paperwork in to this guy and leave wouldn't I? Nope. Instead, I was told that I needed to drive back across town to a police post that was near the original Road Traffic department. And here was the clincher: They only accept INTERPOL forms on Monday, Wednesday and Friday!
Considering that our home is a 2 hour drive away, it will now take me roughly 13 hours and 2 tanks of diesel to complete this process. I wonder if they will let me offer my consulting skills in the future?