CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Livingstone
IT HAS been claimed by some school of thought that a thin line divides the well-travelled and the well-read. Arguably, they are both exposed and knowledgeable about the world.This is the sense I get when I travel to another country because I see and learn new things about that country and the way of life of its citizens. On the other hand, this is knowledge one can learn through reading about a place.
My recent trip to Tanzania via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was not very different as I was going to Dar es Salaam for the first time despite having been to another part of that country.
The main task ahead was to cover the Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) Transit Markets Stakeholders’ Forum and tour of the port of Dar es Salaam.
The forum, which attracted delegates from eight countries was dubbed: “The Dar es Salaam Port and its corridors-enhanced horizon to serve customers for complete satisfaction”.
My trip started on a shaky note as our flight to Addis Ababa which was scheduled at 02:00 hours was delayed by about an hour.
After the boarding call was announced, I hurriedly dragged my hand luggage like other passengers to undergo the thoroughly inconveniencing but necessary security screening and scanning.
Little did I know that I would lose my car key after the rigorous screening which includes taking off one’s footwear and belt among other personal effects which are subjected to scanning.
I only realised that the car key was missing after sitting calmly in the Ethiopian Airlines plane. I did not panic because I was convinced that the key would be found.
I had a strong feeling that I lost the key while undergoing the security checks and screening.
We arrived in Addis Ababa around 08:00 hours and started waiting for the flight to Dar es Salaam which was scheduled for 10:30 hours.
Upon arrival in the coastal city of Dar es Salaam, I was greeted by the humid and hot temperature which immediately signalled to me and others coming from a chilly Lusaka and Addis Ababa that we were ‘overdressed’ as we were clad in winter coats.
I was profusely sweating by the time an immigration officer instructed me to look into the camera as I was being cleared to formally enter Tanzania. I quickly wiped my dripping sweat off the face and was cleared.
I wheeled my travelling bag outside to a waiting TPA official who ushered me and other journalists and delegates to a courtesy bus which took us to Harbour View Hotel situated in the central business district of Dar es Salaam and near the Indian Ocean.
We quickly regrouped with some colleagues after being shown our rooms at the hotel and hit the road to Kariakoo market to get some essentials while familiarising ourselves with the city.
The name Kariakoo is derived from a corruption of the British “Carrier Corps” that used to be based in this area. It is an extensive market spanning several city blocks.
The market contributes substantially to Dar es Salaam’s food and non-food provisions. It is famous for affordable clothes among others and people travel from far and wide including Zambia to do their shopping at there.
Although congested, Kariakoo has good transport links due to the Dar es Salaam bus rapid transit service on independent lanes.
Three wheeler bajaj motorcycles are also a common sight in this city and we could not resist the temptation of riding one as pillions on our way back to the hotel after our shopping escapades.
They are a preferred and reliable means of transport as the riders are able to tactfully weave and slither through the notorious heavy traffic congestion on Dar es Salaam roads.
The next day was strictly business and the day started as early as 07:00 hours at Julius Nyerere Convention center where the forum was being held and ended late around 23:00 hours after a welcoming cocktail party.
We then toured the port of Dar es Salaam the next day which is undergoing upgrading and expansion.
The port is critical to Zambia’s economy as ships carrying crude oil and fuels for the country dock there and offload the fuels among other cargo. It is also a port of exit for Zambia’s major export – copper.
And of course, most second- hand vehicles bought from Japan also referred to as ‘dot coms’ on account of purchasing them online, are offloaded from there before embarking on their long journey of over 1,000 kilometres to Nakonde Border Post in Zambia.
After touring the port, we were treated to a sumptuous meal at Akemi Restaurant.
The restaurant is Tanzania’s only revolving restaurant and is located in one of the tallest buildings on the 21st floor. It offers some breath taking views of the city in what could be described as a magnificent, elegant and ambient interior.
We concluded the day with a gala dinner and retired to prepare for another working day the next morning to tour the Zambia Cargo and Logistics Limited (ZCL).
ZCL is a multi-million dollar international logistics company operating a regional and global business and is domiciled at the port of Dar es Salaam.
It is a wholly-owned State enterprise of the Zambian government supervised by the Industrial Development Cooperation (IDC).
After all the work was done, we again mobilised ourselves and took time to sample some roasted meats, chapatti, pilau rice, pure fruit juices and vegetables among others which are prepared in restaurants owned mostly by Tanzanians of Indian origin.
The morning of our departure at 04:00 hours was characterised by some drama as the man who came to pick us abruptly changed his mind and angrily started offloading our luggage from the minibus.
This was on account of a colleague who delayed us by about 30 minutes. The driver bitterly complained and ‘blew his top’ in Swahili saying “I have a school run to do and now that you people are late, I will not manage to take you to the airport because I will be locked in traffic.”
We later managed to organise three cars as we were a group of eight and arrived at the airport in good time for checking-in.
We flew out of Dar es Salaam via Blantyre and Lilongwe in Malawi before touching down at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport where we were greeted by drizzles and a cold temperature.
And by the way, I found my car key upon arrival! Many thanks to Venus Mandefu, a family friend of many years who works at the airport.
I had informed him about the missing car key while I was in Tanzania and asked him to check for them at the Lost and Found Section.
True to my suspicion, I left the key in one of the luggage trays after the security checks on my way to board the aircraft.