Getting there

Lead times

Time for an update on the new taxis.  They are still not running, but it’s getting close now.  The lead time from buying the cars to actually have them running have been frustratingly long:

(1) Buying the cars – Finding a suitable shipping company – Having the cars picked up at home:  1 month

(2) Car leaving home – Arriving at Abidjan Port – 1.5 months (including a long stop in Antwerp)

(3) Getting the cars out of Abidjan Port: 1.5 months

(4) Repairs, reconfigurations, inspections, registrations etc : 1.5 months and still counting

So it’s practically half a year. For next time though, I know what shipping company to use so (1) should be reduced to a week or so, and (3) was unusually long due to the overflow of cars in Abidjan Port.  Point (2) is hard to do anything about without increasing the shipping cost – at the end it was more to do with waits in ports than ships slowing down because of  high fuel costs.

Headlight Headache

As to (4), one issue has been that the headlights were stolen at port and as they are expensive in Abidjan, an attempt was made to get new ones in Ghana. However, the ones obtained in Ghana didn’t fit, so to pass inspection headlights were rented.

The thing with these car inspections is that whether the car passes is a bit of a function of both the state of the car and how much you pay. I’ve been told that even if you have a brand new car inspectors are still going to find/invent some problem with it to make more money – we are talking petty corruption here, of a type that could be tricky to root out as it can be covered by the inspector’s technical car knowledge.  Maybe one way forward could be to separate the inspection from the handling of the payment for it – though that wouldn’t stop a car owner from paying to pass the inspection.

Giving a taxi-compteur a try

One of the two taxis will become a so called “taxi-compteur” (Taxi-meter) which is like a normal taxi unlike “woro woros” which are more akin to cars doing bus service (see the taxi finally running post).  Basically a taxi-compteur have revenues that are 50% or so higher than a woro-woro, but they are harder to control and there’s a greater risk of the driver selling the car and claiming he drove it into the lagoon or something like that.

Now I got one driver which seems suited for a taxi compteur so I thought I give it a try with one car, even though I heard quite a few stories of people trying to run taxi-compteurs from abroad, and giving up due to having too much problems to handle.

For taxi-compteurs there also are more onerous registration requirements and fees to pay, plus an extra inspection and you have to buy the actual meter, even if it’s rarely used as fixed prices are negotiated in advance. All of this is delaying the start, but we’re getting there!