This is our car.
Nice, eh? It’s a brand new 2013 Toyota Hilux, Africa’s most popular car. Ours is the extended cab model, loaded with plenty of features including a bed liner and canopy.
If you’ve met me in person in America, you must know that I am not the target market for a truck – my husband and I regard them as environmentally irresponsible and wholly unnecessary for our Oregon town lifestyle – but this vehicle is perfect for dealing with the special challenges of Ethiopian driving. A large, high profile diesel 4WD with a sturdy exterior works well with deeply flooded streets, potholes, muddy dirt tracks, and crazy truck drivers, not to mention a shortage of gasoline outside the city. We ordered it with a canopy so we can haul stuff around safely and so we can sleep in it if we need to.
Only problem… guess where our new car is right now?
After searching fruitlessly for a suitable used car in Addis, we placed our order with a Dubai auto dealer in mid-October. It wasn’t a simple process, and we had to enlist the assistance of one of our kids in the US to complete the money transfer. Price? Probably 50% more than you would pay in North America, if the Hilux were sold there.
The dealer was great to work with, but the import process here in Ethiopia is both opaque and (as my friend Lindsey would say) slower than Christmas. The school’s purchasing director, Tegenu, is in charge of the paperwork. Last week he told us that a form had been filled out incorrectly; amending it will take another week at least before he can proceed to the next stage.
This morning I got a message from the dealer in Dubai. Did I know that that the crate with our car in it was still sitting on the dock in Djibouti? Yes, but we’re at the mercy of the import office. And I just heard yesterday that there is a bridge out on the road from Djibouti to Addis.
Meanwhile the clock is ticking on our 6-month duty-free resident status. If we don’t get the car here by the end of December, suddenly we will owe an import fee of about twice the value of the car. Ouch. Slower than Christmas, and much more expensive.