Traveling from Arusha to Tanzania is tricky!
By Valentine Marc Nkwame
The end of year season is here again and for that reason, some guys here will
soon be migrating from Arusha, moving to a country called Tanzania, where they
will be spending the rest of their holidays .... or something!
Now! It is usually not easy to make this journey from Arusha to Tanzania, but it
is even more difficult to grasp the fact that, Arusha is actually supposed to be
in Tanzania. In fact, Arusha is one of the four regions, that make up the
Northern zone of Tanzania.
It is usually difficult to travel from Arusha to Tanzania because one must have
a valid passport and as you know, it easy for a camel to pass through the door
into, Yasser Arafat's hospital room, than for a Tanzanian to acquire a Tanzanian
As if that is not enough, even with the passport, a person who intends to travel
from Arusha to Tanzania, must also face the hassle of going through two other
countries of, Kenya and Uganda.
So, if Arusha is in Tanzania, yet one can travel from Arusha to Tanzania, isn't
something missing here? Well, you are right. Something is indeed missing here
and this is the Serengeti - Mara road, which should be linking the Northern zone
to the Lake Zone, but for some reason is none existent.
Apparently, Arusha residents who hail from the Lake zone of Tanzania, have this
moral obligation of making sure that they pay annual pilgrimage to their
homeland just like the fellows who hail from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro do.
Unfortunately, nobody has ever thought of constructing a road from Arusha to
those regions that are located around the Lake Victoria zone .... After all, we
have our own lakes here even though most of them, like Lake Manyara for
instance, are now proving to be seasonal.
Never mind, but it is due to the lack of such communication infrastructure that
the residents of Arusha who want to spend their Christmas Holiday near Lake
Victoria, must first travel there though Kenya and Uganda, countries that are at
least, investing the money being donated to them by some, "Benefactors," into
some serious road construction projects.
This week, a high-end, luxurious, Gulf-stream Aircraft, landed in the city of
Mwanza. This of course, is irrelevant to our story, but that is just meant to
show you that there are some other better options of traveling to the Lake zone.
You see, road transport dates back to the ancient Rome!
Never mind, but as soon as November ushers in, the Lake zone bound, holiday
makers, wipe dust from their suitcases, pack them and dash off to the nearest
bus station. The tickets of course are usually both expensive and scarce at this
time, but somehow these guys always manage to travel.
At this time of the year, it is not surprising to see some passengers squeezed
under the bus seats, below the steering wheel, behind the radiator, on the bus
roof, luggage compartments or hanging on the rear wheel axle .... After all, if
you want comfort, why not buy your own Gulf-stream aircraft?
The bus fare charge to any Lake zone destination is Tsh.25,000 if you have a
valid passport. Tsh.27,000 if you have an expired one and Tsh.30,000 if you
don't have a passport. These prices, especially the latter, are subject to
change, without notice .... during the journey.
The journeys from Arusha to the Lake Zone always begins at dusk and take the
whole night. In Tanzania, it is illegal for any passenger bus to be traveling
during the night, but by the time the official "Night" comes in, your bus will
have already crossed the Namanga border to Kenya.
Again, shortly after the sun comes up the following day, the buses will be
crossing from Uganda back into Tanzania, having covered a generous stretch of
Kenyan plains, throughout the night. This is a Time-line calculation that
deserves a place in the, Guinness Book of World Records.
So who is the idiot who thinks you can't travel from Arusha to Tanzania, beat
the clock, or maybe leave today and arrive yesterday? Remember, Ngarenaro is
also bigger than Arusha .... A time tested fact.