Ugandan Road Trip – Day fifteen – Bukoba to Mwanza – Power, Corruption and Lies

Woke, had breakfast and returned to the police station at 8. Was told they didn’t give stickers at the weekend so eventually got an officer to write a note to any policeman that stopped me that I would be getting one immediately on my return to Mwanza – if they had any and were open!!

Back on the road with the aim of getting back before dark – 480km on reasonable roads.  Headed off at our usual 100kph where it was achievable but progress was hindered due to the fact that Tanzania roads are liberally filled with potholes and massive speed humps.  Paul was map reading and there was a slow dawning of the fact that we were driving quite close to the lake, certainly not as close to the lake as we did when we were driving on day one – and we should have been on the same road.  Still we knew we were heading in the right direction and finally we realised that we were on a parallel road but weren’t sure how we had got on it.  Couldn’t complain though as it was good quality.  Managed to get to the Busisi ferry at 2.45 which was really good going and there weren’t many people in the queue – relatively speaking.  Joined the back of the line and Paul, Karl and Gil go tout to get tickets.  It’s a bizarre system where the passengers have to board as foot passengers and the driver is the only person allowed in the car as you wait and drive on. So tickets bought and the waiting began.  We noticed that only one of the larger ferries and a smaller ferry were working (the latter only taking about 8 cars). This meant the queues were getting longer. Having been there for a good hour waiting I noticed that some people were using different lanes and being put on ferries having not waited as long as we had.  Eventually I’d had enough and after a beat up Suzuki jeep passed down an unused line and joined the queue for the next ferry – when I was at the front of the line – I shouted as the driver passed me ‘how much did you pay as a bribe?’  The driver heard and reversed –

‘What did you say? The driver had obviously taken umbrage!

 I said ‘how much did you pay for a bribe to jump the queue?’

‘I’m an army officer,’ came the reply.

‘I don’t care who you are, people have been waiting here far longer than you,’ I remarked.

‘I’m an army officer,’ he repeated.  It was never going to get anywhere. He drove off. But people of Tanzania you can sleep well in your beds knowing that army officers drive around in beat up jeeps without uniform with their car full of pineapples!!  At no point did he say ‘I didn’t pay a bribe.’

By this time there were lots of Tz drivers who had waited around for hours and the next ferry again had a lady push in. This time one of the Tanzanians went up to her car and quizzed her on why she should jump the line. She looked very sheepish and didn’t give a good explanation at all.  Come on Tanzania stop with the ‘this is Africa’ attitude and stand up to corruption.

Eventually we boarded the ferry after 140 minutes of waiting. Once across the gulf it was plain sailing and we were in Mwanza before dark. We had clocked up 3008km and seen some fantastic sights – another brilliant trip in Eastern Africa.

I’d like to thank Karl for his map reading, entertaining Gil by playing Sudoko with him, letting him play on his phone, sharing his headphones and generally being a great ‘uncle’ to him on the  journey.  I’d like to thank Paul for his company, generosity, general just going with the flow and putting up with someone 14 years his junior !!  I hope you both enjoyed it. It was a blast – thank you both, you are true friends and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And finally I’d like to thank Gil for managing to annoy all of us regularly but being a brilliant passenger and telling some ‘funny’ jokes to entertain us all.

31d Nile Cruise (50)


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