Border Crossing at Zongo

Border crossings can be such fun.  🙂  Here is what we experienced leaving Bangui and crossing the Ubangi River to enter Congo at Zongo.

To leave CAR (Central African Republic – the capital of which is Bangui) you have to complete several steps of formalities.  Step by step we:

  1. Discussed the price for the porters to unload our bags and freight and carry it to the dugout canoe.
  2. Paid 5% of the value of the purchases to the customs agent.  We had 4 gas bottles plus 2 boxes of groceries.  Paid $15.63
  3. Paid $11.00 to the Husbandry Office because we had cheese and butter
  4. Paid $11.00 to the physosanitation office because we had gas bottles
  5. Paid $11.00 to the Office of Water and Environment for the gas bottles
  6. Paid $4.17 each for 3 people for the health inspector to look at our health cards
  7. Paid $17.08 each for immigration to stamp our passport
  8. Paid $11.00 to the soldiers there for security because we had to.
  9. Then we had to renegotiate with the porters because they had to carry the bags and freight an additional 20 feet.
  10. Next negotiate with the driver of the dugout canoe.  Of course he really wanted to increase the price since the gas bottles were full.  We had brought over empties to exchange.  Arguing that there was no significant increase in weight and fuel consumption was pointless.  The boat cost $41.67

Arriving in Zongo we repeated much of the process:

  1. Negotiate with porters, cheaper here
  2. $5.82 total, not each, to the sanitation officer
  3. $4.17 to the security guys to not look at our bags.  That’s the way it goes.  You can’t get around not paying something.
  4. Then the CEUM truck picked us up and didn’t go to the customs office.  OK, I guess they know what we can and cannot do.  That saved at least $50.

The whole process from unload to leaving on the Zongo side took ~45 minutes which I guess really isn’t too bad.  The stress points are the negotiations which are loud, in-your-face discussions.  What is a fair price and what is unreasonable?  Example: the boat driver started out asking for $41.67.  An individual can cross the river for $1.00, so his starting price seemd unreasonable.  We ended up paying half the starting price.

Such fun!!

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  1. […] Zongo Border Crossing – Dec 2010 […]

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