Customs inspection went well on Wednesday. I arrived at DB Schenker office and Mr Farried who is handling my case and who happens to be a bike enthusiast took me out to the bike on his 150cc Kawasaki. It sounded horrifically tinny but it looked good.
If I had of known this, I would have gone straight to customs and told them the bike was ready for inspection and not bothered waiting around nearly an hour for the Schenker people, because besides doing some translating and taking me for lunch and actually being really nice people, they didn’t really help much! Instead, because we were at APW already I had to persuade Mr Farried and the APW people to let me go back to customs, because I wanted to make sure the customs inspector knew that I knew Mr Sofwan (his boss) and that Mr Sofwan knew that particular customs inspector was dealing with my shipment.
As it was the Schenker people, including the normal customs clearing agent (who I met on Friday and still don’t trust) warned me that I might be looking at about a 2 million IRP ($200 AUD) ‘Inspection fee’. I was left with no doubt that this fee was a bribe for the inspection officer. I indicated that if it ever came up it was to be referred to me immediately. My couple of hours in Mr Sofwan’s office had demonstrated to me that there was typically a list of charges attached to the documents in each customs folder (copies of all my documents had gone into a similar folder). These charges were reviewed and signed off by Mr Sofwan. My feeling is that if the charges were written down and available on an invoice or receipt of some form signed of by Mr Sofwan, then I would have no real way of arguing with them. If anything was asked for that wasn’t on paper signed by Mr Sofwan, then it was a bribe and I wouldn’t be paying it – i’d simply play the dumb Bule card and ask for it to be included on the paperwork to be paid later.
So, due to the messing around it was Lunch and of course nothing was going to happen for an hour. All you ppl who work 9-5 in the developed world should thank capitalism that banks and post offices and government buildings don’t just shut down during lunch hour – when would you ever get anything done?
After lunch we headed back to APW with our customs inspector. With much excitement and a crowd we headed to the bike, which seems to be in about the same condition as when I left her nearly 2 months ago (April 7th!). They then spent a lot of time taking photos and trying to scrath the engine numbers onto making tape for their files. Eventually they were happy. I made sure to mention a number of times when they took copies of my documents (again) that a folder of documetns already existed, that Mr Sofwan was my friend and he had already approved them. Seemed to go down a treat and not a single mention of ‘inspection fee’ arose. Happy with that, even if it means it just shows up later on paper! I figure if official documentation of such fees doesn’t scare them no level of protesting from me is going to get them to change anyway.
Unfortuantely, Mr Sofwan was not in the port office on Wednesday – he was out at the head office. So, it meant that due to my name dropping it appears now that nobody is prepared to stamp the Carnet and that I’ll have to get Mr Sofwan to do it himself! Not sure how that will go, but if it has helped me avoid a $200 bribe then I’m happy to wait an extra 2 days.
So, still no bike but its ok – I’ve adapted to local time now and really, another couple of days when i’ve been waiting 25 days already and my visa is about to expire is really not going to matter.