Carnet; a device to trap a vehicle in Kenya

November 10, 2012

Today is a defining day for the #OfCpilot. In order to drive a vehicle out of Kenya, you need a number of things: a vehicle; registration documents; insurance and the ‘comesa’ to extend that insurance beyond Kenyan borders; a compulsory revaluation of the car; an international driving license and a yellow ‘carnet’ which must be stamped in and out at each border crossing - effectively a passport for the car and a way of sidestepping the duty payments that would exist were you exporting it. Each one of these things takes a considerable amount of time, paperwork, fees and ‘persuasion’ to achieve. In order to be issued with the carnet, you need to demonstrate, beyond any reasonable doubt, that you intend to return the car to Kenya; here is where our problems begin. Following a number of recent claims by people who have been issued the get-out-of-Kenya-free yellow document and have then disappeared, the insurance companies in Kenya have closed the loophole on getting a reasonable price for the carnet; instead, requiring a cash deposit equalling 100% of the car’s value. Our car, we’re delighted to say, is worth around £10,000 and accidentally, we forgot to bring that in cash. It was, and technically still is possible to take out insurance against the cost of the carnet and pay a lesser premium but to do this you need the insurer to believe that you will be coming back. How do you prove that? You build trust between your organisation and the individuals whose call it is at the insurance company. You show them evidence from your emails and pictures of the workshops we’ve already done in Kenya, you wait in traffic for days and eventually you beg the British Council for help. We are two steps away now. We have everything but one counter signature from the boss of AA Kenya’s insurance brokers and our now dear friend Nina at the AA licensing head office having time today to process and issue the carnet. The two offices are 10 miles apart, which on a Saturday morning in Nairobi can mean upwards of 2 hours. The plan is to meet the insurers at 9am, presumably go through the case a fourth time and hopefully have our papers countersigned, then make it across town in magic time to meet magic Nina who is able to work more magic on our yellow carnet. If this happens all by 12.30pm (when the offices shut) we will be able to travel to Arusha by sunset and carry on the pilot with the good people of the School of St Jude amongst others. If by every chance this doesn’t happen, Lucy and Al are going to take a bus to Tanzania and get going on workshops and Poppy and Andy are going to follow behind, potentially two days later, after the weekend and the same game on Monday. Bring it on.

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