Ajakait is in a good mood – she called all excited with relief – the processes of procuring her driving permit are complete and all she has to do is go back to pick it up. You might be thinking how a person can be so excited about this driving permit non issue. So let one explain.
You see, Ajakait’s driving permit expired a while ago (on advice of her legal counsel it is best not to be specific here). She began the process of renewing it and even paid the relevant taxes, which at the time were 56 thousand shillings.
She told one that she went to the driving permit processing agent (DPPA) – you know that place which has a monopoly on matters driving permit and whose technologies have a face – in order to obtain her renewed permit. She was told that since she had taken so long without going to the DPPA to finalise the process of renewing her permit, the DPPA had cancelled her permit – something or rather. The incredulity in her voice as she narrated is priceless.
She was apparently advised by the DPPA that she had to re-apply for a permit afresh – as in go back to driving school, do the driving test that is given by the Police and in order to do so she had to pay for a Learners Driving Permit, pay for driving school and the driving test. Just so you know Ajakait has been driving for over 20 years, moreover manual cars, not automatics.
Well, what choice did she have? She admitted outfoxed and so she paid for the Learners Driving Permit and procured legitimate paperwork that fulfilled the other two conditions as well. She was a bit cagy about whether she actually re-took driving lessons and actually took the test. But suffice it to say, she obtained the legitimate documents.
With her documents in hand she went to the bank to pay taxes for renewing her permit – knowing the amount she had paid in the past – 56 thousand shillings – she paid the same amount. When she went to the DPPA with her deposit slip she was told that she had paid the wrong amount and that she should have paid 66 thousand shillings. As she explains one can deduce her irritation by this turn of events.
Perhaps, now is the time to tell you a little bit more about Ajakait’s character before we continue her driving permit story. Ajakait is the kind of person who when she feels that those who are supposed to provide a service to tax-paying citizens are tossing the citizens about just like that, like that – her go to mode is best described as porcupine prickly.
Mark you, on the face of it, it is not easy for one to know that like a porcupine Ajakait has her own version of quills that she can instantly erect in defence against those she perceives as predators – in this context those who are supposed to provide a service to tax-paying citizens and instead seemingly toss the citizens about just like that, like that.
Ajakait fits in the category of women that the Baganda describe as “akatula ake bisse” (meaning she looks smooth and beautiful on the surface, like certain small Africa eggplants, but within that smooth exterior resides bitter flesh). When her bile erupts from inside out and her quills are erect, Ajakait can be quite unpleasant to those she perceives as predators.
Ajakait did not tell one the whole story of what her reaction was when she was told that she had paid the wrong taxes for renewing her Driving Permit. But one thinks that it is possible to deduce from the fact that Ajakait did not take action to pay the correct taxes until later (again on advice of her legal counsel it is best not to be specific).
This time round, before she paid, she says she went back to the DPAA and asked if the new permit she had begun processing was still valid or it had been cancelled. Ajakait was apparently assured that it was. Then she inquired about the exact amount of taxes she should go and pay and she was told 150 thousand shillings. Her jaw dropped, so she says. When did the taxes for Driving Permits go up more than double?
Anyway, she had no choice, no need raising her quills against the messenger, she shares. Honestly, she probably took the information more calmly than she ordinary would have because, according to her, the messenger was so pleasing to the eye. You know the guy at the DPPA who told her about the more than double increased taxes on driving permits might actually be the famous Ikoku of Dr. Stella Nyanzi.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand, Ajakait says she reigned in her masquerading inappropriate inter-generation emotions, reminding herself that in relation to that Ikoku-look-alike she was egali ekoseko (if you need an explanation ask through comment on this post).
She says she thanked the Ikoku-look-like guy at the DPPA and went to the bank to pay the 150 thousand shillings. She then took back the deposit slip to the DPPA, and according to her, she was told to wait for 30 to 50 minutes for her payment/paper work to be processed for the next step.
One hour later, Ajakait narrates, a woman with a microphone hooked to a public address system called out Ajakait’s name among others and she was told to line up for finger printing – apparently for every transaction that one makes at the DPPA one has to be finger printed.
Ajakait’s quills began to come up, she says, but admits that she knew that it would do her no good arguing with the messengers. She apparently assessed the long winding lines of people waiting to be finger printed and decided her time is better utilised at her work desk. She inquired if she could come back the following morning to continue with the process and the woman at the DPPA said it was okay, explains Ajakait.
So the next day, according to Ajakait, she was at the DPPA early morning – literally entering the DPPA at the same time as its workers were entering. She was among a few, and so she was served quick, quick and in under an hour she was done transacting at the DPPA, Ajakait explains with a voice loaded with pleasant surprise.
Ajakait’s driving permit experience gave us a lot of food for thought about the state of affairs in our Country, Uganda. It is a promise that one will share some more later. One’s lunch break is over and one has some urgent work to attend to.
This story was written by, Norah Owaraga, an Active Citizen of Uganda and an Arm Chair Activist.