Fred, Frank and the quest for a green card!

I was issued with a Rwandan visa during the VSO in country training, in Kigali, but a green card is also required. Applications have to be made in person and the green card is issued by the immigration office in the district in which you are working; in my case Kirehe.  

You might think this would be a fairly straight forward exercise, particularly as the immigration officer is based just a couple of hundred yards up the road at the District Office. However this is Africa and the wheels of bureaucracy grind exceedingly slow.

Firstly we spent two weeks, on and off, trying to meet the immigration officer (Fred!) but every visit drew a blank with his door firmly locked and a note posted that he was out on business. Eventually contact was made by phone and he informed us that the application process was a three-part exercise.

Part one involved a two-hour round trip, on Thursday morning, to the town of Kibungo and a visit to the Fina Bank to make a 5000 RWF green card payment. In return I received a receipt which had to be taken up the hill to the RRA (Rwandan Revenue Authority). Here the first receipt was exchanged for another receipt, in duplicate and officially stamped, which I was told had to be passed to the immigration officer with my application; so far so good.

On returning to Nyakarambi, surprise, surprise, the immigration office was closed and I was informed nobody would be there until the next morning. I dutifully returned at 07.30 on Friday morning to find Fred was still not there so I called his mobile. Surprisingly he answered and informed me that he was on leave but someone would be taking his place later in the day. They were currently tied up on business in Kibungu and would not be there for about an hour.

I returned an hour and a half later to find that the relief immigration officer had still not arrived but someone ‘helpfully’ suggested I could short-circuit the operation by catching a bus down to the Rwanda/Tanzania border at Rusomo, 20 km away, where the immigration officer on duty there could issue the card.

I waited an hour for the next bus to Rusomo and after a 45 minute journey presented myself at the immigration office. I was asked to take a seat whilst they kindly explained that unfortunately I had been misinformed and green cards could not be issued at the border.

However, they did phone the office at Nyakarambi and assured me that the relief immigration officer had now arrived and was waiting for me! I hopped back on the bus and an hour later found, to my relief, that he was indeed in his office.

Relief immigration officer Frank (not Fred!) sat at his desk wading through a mighty pile of immigration applications. The waiting room was crammed with people waiting for their documents.

I was invited to take a seat but Frank could not interrupt what he was doing and ‘mix the work’, he would deal with me as soon as he was finished.

I waited for over an hour while Frank shuffled the same pile of papers backwards and forwards, each time adding a different rubber stamp or signature, about five in all!

At last he was finished but there was one final heart stopping moment when he could not find the green cards or the ledger in which they had to be recorded. Following a phone call, presumably to Fred, he found them and we were under way.

Half an hour, and four rubber stamps later I emerged triumphant with my green card.

For me the main benefit of a green card  is that it allows a reduction in the permit fees for visiting the gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park and the wild life in the Akagera National Park, both of which I’m  hoping to visit during the coming weeks.

There are no comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: