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about the situation in Bissau

posted Feb 9, 2013, 3:50 PM by Andras Kalmar   [ updated Feb 9, 2013, 3:50 PM ]
There are some horror stories about the situation in Bissau in the official Facebook group of Budapest-Bamako. Although the stories are partly true, everything is OK here.
First of all, the 4 day carnival started in Bissau today. During carnival, no cars are allowed to drive in the city starting from the early afternoon. We knew that, but we did not know how aggressively the police prosecute offenders. We have seen a motorbike rider being pulled from his vehicle and beaten up by the police because he ignored the ban on driving. One of our fellow teams was stopped while they were searching for a hotel room and they were not allowed to continue (we share one of our rooms with them now). The problem here is that it was not clearly communicated if any driving is banned or just entering the city from the outside. And of course the aggressive behavior of the police.

The second issue is that the government wants to avoid that people are selling their cars without paying import duties and tax. The only information we received was that people who did not pay the import duties in advance (via the B2 office) will have difficulties selling the car. What we did not know is that the government is trying to control the sales process by collecting the cars' registration documents and by locking the cars into a stadium outside of the city. Moreover they are doing that without knowing which cars are actually for sale and which are not. Some 50 cars have been "confiscated" because of that, the others (including Baby Beast and Pajero) could escape. The problem here is a combination of a stupid approach (the police don't know which car is for sale, they just catch whomever they can get), and of missing / wrong information to the teams (there is an information letter dated Feb 3 circulating now, but nobody knew about it until the first "confiscations" occured.

It is annoying and, for those teams whose cars have been taken by the police, for sure also scary, but it is nothing dangerous.

I am more worried about a lot of things being stolen and some teams even being violently robbed. We will keep our eyes open and try to enjoy the next days in Bissau.


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