Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Little Less Corruption: Is That Too Much To Ask?

I mean, come on. In June, I got caught by all kinds of predators. The bloody Fire Brigade was out, "fining" drivers if they didn't have a fire inspection sticker and an extinguisher in their car. It ended up costing me twenty. Then the cops were everywhere, checking for any excuse to stick people with that thirty thousand fine- in multiples! Someone lax could easily rack up 120k in fines in one ambush! I want to know how unnamed cop dude spotted that my insurance had expired by six days from over 100 meters away. Apparently our traffic police have Enhanced Vision Superpowers but they can't see all the jacked-up rural buses that regularly kill passengers on our hinterland roads. I coughed up my thirty for the pleasure of being regulated by my state, and have the receipt to show for it.

Don't get me wrong: the 'rebel' vibe is a sham. I am thoroughly square. I believe in rules unless they just are plain stupid, at which point I believe in using other rules to rectify the bad ones. I get the point of taxes, and fines, and all of that tedious folderol. I am happy to be an obedient citizen because I have an affinity for order, and peace, and anything that doesn't get in the way of striving for a deliciously contented life. But in exchange for this shameful and self-serving bourgeois complacency, I expect something back from my public sector. So it killed me to pay the Fire people anything when just a few years ago I got to watch the apartment above mine burn to cinders because these people failed to show up and do their job. And it killed me to pay a fine to traffic police who are good for nothing much other than fining people like me.

Nobody wants to pay for a broken system. It's like being forced to pay premium for rotten eggs at the market- how do these public servants of ours think it feels? I would gladly hand over all the contents of my wallet if there was a glimmer of a chance that the money might actually buy medicines for government hospitals or top up the salary of a teacher striving to bring the light of the word and the number to kids stuck in the neglected ruralities. But have you seen the potbellies on the senior ranks of the police force? If we were to eat them, we could feed a medium village for two weeks that's how fat they are. The forms that were filled out for my fines- no names, no numbers, no way of following up with the "arresting officer."

Let's not play games here folks, did you really need to hold me up for twenty minutes just so you could make enough money to afford your boss another cholesterol-laden boozefest at his dingy bar of choice? Our police chiefs have potbellies, but we "can't" afford to pay teachers a living wage? Nor stave off doctors' strikes? #Mxiiiii.


  1. of all my travels thus far in tanzania, i have the hardest time with this in dar es salaam. i get pulled over numerous times per every trip in which i pass through. usually, however, much time and effort is spent by the "arresting officer" to make it clear that it's "so much trouble" to actually go to the police station and get a written ticket. but, in nearly every case, once i've made it clear that i don't at all mind taking the hour to do so (despite all the heartfelt words of "what can we do to take care of this? i'd really like to find a way to help you."), they let me go.

    this doesn't really happen much anywhere else in the country.

  2. Indeed James, this is a problem for us in the urban areas. They have to hunt us where the money is :)


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