Saturday, October 9, 2010
Mountains of paper and other red-tape
While His Nibs reclines on most of my office chair, Grant and I have dashed about the city arranging his safe departure from North to South Africa!
We're working with and through a pet travel agency in South Africa who supplied the travel cagea and arranged the import permit from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in South Africa. They also arrange for the state vet to meet the plane in Johannesburg next week and clear the cat through customs on the South African side. Shadow arrives as cargo and we will not see him or have him near us when he arrives at Oliver Tambo International Airport, in Johannesburg. Every document has to be in perfect order, else the cat could be returned to the country of origin. Once the vet has placed his signature on the entry permit, the pet travel company will bring Shadow (still in the cage) to a pre-arranged meeting place and hand him over to us. BTW, cats are not placed in quarantine when arriving in South Africa, thank goodness.
The first thing we had to do was to get the Sudanese State Vet at the airport quarantine department to sign Shadow's health certificate. (This blank form comes from the pet travel agency in SA and your pet will NOT be allowed into the country without this certificate/clean bill of health) We collected Dr Khalid (Shadow's vet) from the Police Dog Administration hospital; he accompanied us to the airport as an added support that he has examined the cat and found him healthy and disease -free. Once we arrived at the quarantine department we had a short wait for the State vet who was busy elsewhere in the airport building. He arrived, signed the form and told us that we need to produce Shadow at the same office to be physically examined in the early hours of Wednesday morning before we all leave the Sudan.
Originally we had a very difficult time trying to get the one specific across to the airline agent, Ahmed here in Khartoum. We couldn't make ourselves understood over the telephone, even though the gentleman speaks perfect English. So we arranged to meet him at his office at 10.30pm last Tuesday night. He only works at night. When we explained that we need to have our cat sent to SA as manifest cargo, he said, No, your cat goes on the conveyor belt as excess baggage when you check into your flight. The more we said the law states that animals are not allowed into SA as excess baggage, the more Ahmed insisted that he has sent cattle, dogs, sheep and camels by air to various countries as excess baggage. BUT to places like Cairo (Egypt) and Lusaka (in Zambia) never to Johannesburg, South Africa. Eventually Grant asked him for the airline's book of rules and regulations and found the paragraph which stated that live animals cannot enter South Africa as excess baggage, only as manifest cargo. Phew! At last we were all on the same page, excuse the pun!
Ahmed proceeded to complete an airway bill for Shadow and from there onwards the process went more or less smoothly. We had to return on Tuesday this week to pay for the ticket and within forty-five minutes we were on our way back to our car. Then my mobile rang; it was Ahmed. He'd forgotten that we have to have the cat cleared by customs so could we return again in the morning when the lady agent takes over from him and deals with this?
Even though we'd only got to bed after midnight, we were up again early on Wednesday morning and soon driving across town through rush hour traffic on our way back to the airport. Fortunately when we arrived, Ahmed had not yet left the office (poor lad, I wonder when he gets any sleep) and said that he'd organize the customs form and phone us when it was ready. He phoned at 4.30 pm and said could we come back again at 10pm; he'd have the customs cleared for us. When we arrived on Wednesday night, he was involved with a huge cargo consignment for Egypt and had passed our customs form request onto one of his collegues. We sat and waited in his office until near midnight when he and the collegue arrived with the completed custom's form.
Meanwhile, the import permit from South Africa had arrived in my e-mail box and we took it back to the airport on Thursday night - yes after 10.30pm!
Now we have copies of all the required forms in a plastic envelope and tape it to the top of Shadow's cage when we travel next Wednesday morning. A copy of Grant's passport will be with these forms to ensure the vet, pet travel agency and the other airport officials in South Africa know who owns the cat!
Grant and I have had papers, documents, permits and forms coming out of our ears (err, the scanner and printer) over the past week.
All that remains now is for us to take the budgies to Robyn on Monday evening, and to pack our personal effects and wait for Wednesday morning!
Little Shadow will be in the travel cage in the hold (there is a connection in Addis Ababa, where he will be moved from one plane to another) We have an hour-and-a-half wait in the airport terminal to board this flight. Then it's all the way home for the Khartoum Hedges!
The Arabic for veterinarian is Ţbyb Byţry (teep - pay-teree)