Each week, the CROSS Project Team teaches at three different locations, usually at churches around the Lusaka area. I usually pick up John and Eta, our two national workers for the CROSS Project, somewhere along the way. So, for them to get from their houses to the meeting point, they have to take a Mini Bus.
A Mini Bus is a small Toyota Hiace Van that crams anywhere between 12-18 people (or more) in. There are hundreds of them around the city all painted bright blue and are pretty much the entire public transportation system here, besides some bigger buses that we would see in America and also walking. Like any other vehicle on the road, in Zambia they need to have two stickers on their front windshield, indicating that they have paid their road tax to the government and passed their vehicle fitness test. Road Tax is like your license plate tabs/stickers that most States have back in the USA (although Minnesota, for some crazy reason, makes you put tabs on the front AND back plates, but I digress…). And vehicle fitness is where you take your car to the Road Traffic Safety Administration yard, and they check it over and deem if your car is worthy to drive for the next year…Which, I absolutely hate doing, because it can turn into a very lengthy process, but it probably is a good idea considering all of the very unfit vehicles I see driving around here.
Mini Buses are not known to be the most law abiding vehicles on the road, so, most of them don’t have up-to-date Road Tax and Fitness done. To monitor if people have their road tax and fitness up to date (and sometimes ask to see the driver’s license), the police setup check points all over town. You always know there is a checkpoint ahead, because you see dozens of mini buses and cars making u-turns, hopping curbs, crossing the median, and driving the wrong way down the road trying to get away from the check point.
Lately, John and Eta will call me and let me know that they will be a little late, because their mini bus is now taking a detour down back roads and ally ways, out in the bush, or down cow paths to try to get around the police check point. Usually, in the background I here people yelling at the bus driver to let them off and give them their money back. Things like this are frustrating but also a little amusing in that I always picture the big public transit buses in Minneapolis trying to get away from the police and jumping curbs and going down ally ways. It’s pretty hard to imagine in Minneapolis, but yet it seems so normal here…