Monthly Archives: August 2012

Blissfully uneventful

Family portrait

Landing was just the beginning.

It’s not only Kigoma’s runway that’s not paved; most roads in the region – far from any big city and close to the borders with stricken Burundi and DR Congo – are rough roads.

Driving from village to village, thick clouds of dust swell with every passing vehicle, turning the roadside vegetation orange-brown. We narrowly miss a dog, a goat, and a huge lizard that runs across the road; a bird is less fortunate. One afternoon, in Kigoma town, a man has collapsed in the middle of a main road: he tries to get up, but fails. Malaria? Something else? Just drunk, it turns out.

When I buy my bus ticket for the return journey towards Dar, I get a seat number that’s next to one of two armed guards. My colleagues had been joking all week about what we do when we meet the bandits.
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Travelling slowly

Booking flights this week to Kigoma was a bit complicated, especially since Precision Air – the only airline serving that airport – suddenly cancelled all flights to/from Kigoma until further notice. Staff at Precision couldn’t tell me why, though we assume it’s to do with the runway which is unpaved, and has already caused accidents – a plane a few months back had a bit of a crash landing when 3 tyres burst on impact. It’s dry season now, so it’s at least possible to land, not always the case during rainy season.

In the meantime, we’ve all been mildly amused/concerned by the revelation that the only radar at the country’s main airport in Dar es Salaam hasn’t been working since the beginning of August. Without that radar, used for managing air traffic, “air traffic controllers are reduced to relying on guesswork, which is very dangerous”. (Hmm, I think you can land…. now!)  The reason it failed in the first place is, surprise surprise, problems with the power supply. Continue reading

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Photos on the Freedom Railway

Finally figured out how to embed slideshows – to see the captions, view as full-screen (by clicking the button on the bottom right), then click on “share info” in the top-right corner.

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Communication for beginners

Have I learned nothing in all the time I’ve been here?!, I wonder sometimes.

The past week I’ve been in long meetings with an experienced Belgian colleague who’s in the country for a week. With our Tanzanian colleagues we’re working on the “exit strategy” of an education project – trying to pave the way for continuation of what worked well and ensure that what’s been invested isn’t lost as soon as our funding ends next year.

So I arrive with my laptop, ready to note down action points and to-do lists and questions to be ticked off. And then struggle against the rising irritation in my lungs as people we were scheduled to meet simply don’t turn up, or are late, or sit there yawning or answering their phones. Continue reading

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