December 20, 2022
by Jay Schierloh

Orphan Shade purchased a used 4WD SUV in December from Japan. Yes, Japan. We will explain later.

The current vehicle (Honda Freed - mini SUV) has been great. However, it has limitations. The Honda is two wheel drive and has very low ground clearance. Therefore, it does not perform well off-road during the rainy season (December to April) . The car has gotten stuck and damaged on muddy roads multiple times. There have been several occasions where we were not able to supply food on a timely basis in Pangeti. We will continue to operate the Honda in Blantyre and in rural areas during the dry season.

Our 2022 budget included funds to purchase a used 4WD SUV. We searched vigorously in Blantyre to find one at a fair price and in good condition. Unfortunately, vehicles are not maintained well in Malawi. Therefore, our best option is to purchase a used right hand drive vehicle in Japan (Where else?). Used vehicles in Japan tend to be well maintained and can be purchased at a very reasonable cost.

The car will be shipped from Japan to the post city of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. There it will be stored short term. A friend of the ministry will pick up the car and drive it to the town of Songwe at the Malawi border. That is when the real fun begins.

The MRA (Malawi's IRS/Customs equivalent) is a very powerful government entity. Their job is to collect cash and penalize cheaters. Prince Kampomo will drive to Songwe from Blantyre to engage in discussions/negotiations with the MRA to minimize the amount of customs duty, excise tax and XXX payable to register and legally import the vehicle. This process lasted 1 week when we brought the Honda Freed in from Tanzania.