Friday, October 18, 2013

Worst bureaucratic officialdom

Time was passing here in Tual Indonesia and we were still not checked in. What happened to the declared One day check in?

We were approached by SV Relapse and asked how much we had paid to our agent's local helper. We had to give him 2 million Rupiah (~$200 Cdn), apparently to cover various department fees. This was quite an unexpected surprise as we had paid our agent in Jakarta this same amount and thought it was all that was needed. Relapse, having been in Indonesia for 3 years and used the same agent, told us that this was not right and the only fees now should be $50 Cdn. So we sent an email to our agent to enquire. He confirmed what Relapse had told us and assured us that he would email his helper to set that matter straight. So when our agent's helper collected us and the other cruisers ashore for due process, he privately returned the excess money to each of us. We didn't make an issue with it so he could save face. Obviously he got the message.

The Custom's office has the following 2-metre poster on display, clearly a problem in Indonesia...


We went to some health office where, as we waited, they laboriously filled out various forms and made numerous entries of their files, all made official with numerous stamps and signatures. Eventually we were presented with a large booklet containing a certificate stating we were health approved. Apparently this booklet would also be presented to the next places that we checked into and more certificates added. Hmmm, we'll see. (We later discovered this booklet was only needed for large commercial ships and we never of course used it once.)

Next, off to the Custom's office by way of motor-scooter taxis. There we sat and waited. And waited. And waited, listening to the chain-smoking Indonesian palaver. Our helper's interpretation was that Customs could not process any further paperwork until they received a Letter of Guarantee signed by our agent. Jordan tried to convince our agent's helper to call our agent in Jakarta to see what the delay was but he told Jordan that our agent had refused to sign the letter so they were just waiting until he did. What!!!!

It had been over 5 days now. If our agent had not signed the letter by now, obviously he was NOT going to. So Jordan insisted that our helper call our agent and the result was he still refused to sign. So next Jordan asked for the phone and called himself. Our agent gave some longwinded reasoning why his signature wasn't needed and still refused and Jordan gave the phone to the Custom's agent to get the same message from our agent's own lips. But to no avail, Customs insisted they MUST have a signed letter or we can't get processed for check in. We were at a stalemate but there must be a solution.

We were told that all other previous boats were signed in without an agent Guarantee Letter because they were with the Sail Indonesia Rally, an event with pre-approved leniency. We did not join that rally as we were too late.

We were willing to sign our own Letter of Guarantee but this was not acceptable to Customs. Finally, our agent called and suggested that Customs call the Head office in Jakarta for a solution. After much discussion, Head Office agreed to let us sign our own letter and the paperwork was now in the works!

But before they could finalize, a boat inspection was necessary. So off to our boat with a Custom's man. But during the day, our dinghy had been damaged by kids playing in it (any boats are fair game for the ever present kids) and they had torn out the start cord. So we called SV Azzan and he graciously gave us a ride to Sea Turtle, waited while the Custom's agent filled out more papers, and then gave Customs and Jordan a ride back to shore. After another 2 hours of paperwork, Azzan once again gave Jordan a ride back to Sea Turtle - all checked in finally. It was now 20:00 and we had spent the entire day mostly with Customs.

This has been our worst check in ever. We had been forewarned so took it in stride. We experience the joys of sailing but we must also experience the trials of sailing!

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