After a couple of days at Utengule we were ready to hit the road again. From Mbeya to Iringa on road A 104 and from Iringa to Dar es Salaam the road A 7. This is the main road from Dar es Salaam to Southern Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia, and it was as much traffic as expected. On the first stretch of 280 from Mbeya to 50 km south of Iringa, we passed 16 police check points and maybe half of them had speed guns. We were lucky and were only stopped twice, and that was not for speeding. They wanted to check driver’s license, car papers and if we had first aid kit, fire extinguisher, safety triangles etc. When we showed them all the right papers, fire extinguisher and first aid kit they realized we were prepared and didn’t want to see the rest. One police officer then pointed to the crack in our windshield and said “this is a problem, so how should we solve this?” He hopes we will give him a bribe to solve the “problem”. Espen quickly told him that this is NOT a problem. The car was inspected at the border two days before and they said it was okay. The Patrol was not really inspected at the border, but a white lie would be no harm. As soon as the officer heard this he waved us on. So a cracked windshield is not really a problem.
We can understand that the police have speed guns to make the traffic slow down through the villages where there is mostly a 50 kilometer per hour zone. Most normal cars slowdown to 50 and so do most trucks, but not the large buses. They drive at least 80 kilometers per hour through villages, and we seldom see them stopped by the police. Do the bus companies regularly bribe the local police so they can keep their schedule? The worst driving we saw on the main road in Tanzania was by long distance buses, and we were really happy we had our own transport. But the most accidents were with trucks involved. Here is collection of accidents we saw during two days on Tanzanian main roads.
"In God we trust"- I do not know if it is enough to only trust in God when it comes to safe driving.
The main road A 7 goes through Mikumi National Park and we hoped to spot some African wild life again. In Mikumi the owner of the campground we stayed told us that we had to be careful taking photos or stop while driving though the park. Tourists that have stopped or taken photos have been taken in by the park rangers and given a fine to first pay the entrance fee to the park, $ 35 per person, and then a fine of $ 150. Pretty incredible when the main road goes through an area and you are not allowed taking any photos out of your window. We did actually see quite a lot of animals and it was really nice, but we have no photos to prove it.
Besides being threatened with fines for stopping and taking photos, there are also other reasons why we do not always stop along the road. In Africa (except from Botswana and Namibia) there are people everywhere. Mostly this is fine of course; it just depends on the size of the crowd. More populated areas combined with a major road junction often looks like this if you stop.
Next stop Zanzibar.
Apologies to Espen for using the road accident photos in this blog and not in his through the windshield series