Friday, June 12, 2009


Since starting the process of applying for our Zambian drivers licenses we have between the two of us accumulated 5 tickets for various offenses, signed an 'admission of guilt' form, and acquired an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the RSTA (Road Safety and Transit Agency).   It has been a drama in 4 acts.  (see the posting from for the previous installments)

RSTA moved the office where you pick up your card from the Lumumba Road office (where I was so excited about the 'Ladies Line' at the card collecting office) to a mysterious place.  No one could tell me where it was because I didn't know any of the landmarks and the road doesn't have a name.  

Once I find the new RSTA office (between the Interpol office and the city bus station around the corner from the Central Police Station), I find the gate closed at 9am even though they are supposed to open at 8.  They are open but the lot is full so I must jump the curb and park in the ditch (as instructed by the guard). I proceed to the building.  "Madame!? Madame?!?" Yes?"Madame, you need to go this side." and the guard points to a gnarly old shipping container in a dirt lot behind the parking lot for the RSTA building.  Sure enough the container has been converted into the card-dispersal station.  There are only a dozen people waiting but no one seems to be doing anything and there is no line, never mind a 'ladies line' so I go to the little plastic window and present my papers.  They are refused.  The other patrons (customers? clients?) assure me that I just need to wait for a bit and then he will accept the papers.

After the RSTA guy gets through his stack, sure enough, he accepts another batch of papers, ours included of a fellow who is also waiting.  The RSTA guy has two long tables in front of him with cardboard tabs and stacks of thousands of licenses in rubber-banded bunches. I am assuming they are in alphabetical order, but let's not get too crazy.  The guy calls names one by one and hands out cards or hands back the temporary papers with new extension stamps.  I am discouraged that some peoples' papers have many, many stamps.  

We do not get or licenses.  We do get a stamp: a mere 20 days extension.  Before I can take my papers, however, this guy swoops in and grabs them, announcing quietly that he is going to do me a big favor and he marches off to I know not where.  I wait and wait and wait.  I am trying to remember what he looks like and what he is wearing for the police report.  After some time (40 minutes or so), the container guy wants to see me inside.  From what I gather the 'favor' was checking for our cards in the main building before we were turned us away but the cards were not there.  Someone returned  the paperwork back to Mr Container dude who in turn returned them to me.  

20 days later
Same routine, only this time when I stuff my papers through the little plastic window, I get, almost immediately in return....the licenses.  Very anti-climatic.   The drivers license saga is complete. We have our licenses -- I have a class B license TJ inexplicably has a class C license.  We have them..."now now" as they say here.

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