BEWARE of TAXIS in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar
Replies: 2 - Last Post: Nov 20, 2012 10:30 AM Last Post By: cochin321
Nov 18, 2012 1:15 AM
Tanzanian registered taxis are supposed to have a circle on the side with a four digit number in it. Our taxi looked like a real one and my friend saw the sticker on the side. There was about five or six taxis and taxi men all hanging around together in what i presumed it was a taxi rank. The other taxi men tried helping us load the kayaks that my friends had. They all seemed to know each other.
While loading the boats our driver asked if we'd split up into two taxis because of the kayaks, but said he was willing to charge the same price which was 15,000 shillings. We refused to split.After spending some time loading the boats and backpacks another man sat in the front seat. I knew that was a big warning signal and asked him why he was there. He said, 'its ok, its ok'. I asked him a few times and my friends thought it was ok. I know this is stupid but he looked so friendly and smiley that i just got in. I felt safe enough with my two friends in the backseat, one of whom was a guy. Yes i should have demanded that we get out but after the long train journey i was too tired to think straight.
Our journey to Safari Inn felt very long! We were leaving the lights of the city. My friend noticed we were following a van. Our seats were child locked. The van turned left, we turned left. It stopped, we stopped. We were down a dark alley.
About eight big guys got out of the van. Our driver and the man in front were forced to get out and got a few punches for hesitating to do so. Six guys approx. surrounded our taxi while three guys crept on top of us from the front seats. One was massive, sweaty and had crazy eyes. They shouted at us things like, 'f%ck u f^ck u!! you must co-operate! what are u going to do?! We dont want property, just money! Give us all your money! Give us your phones! Youll get them back! No we dont want passports! Give us your pin! My friend screamed after her necklace was pulled, they hit her. My guy friend tried hitting them back. There was way to many guys to even consider this. They told us to be quiet while they rummaged around our bags. My phone was passed outside to another guy, as were my friends. 'Youll get them back' one guy said.
We were driven around for two and a half hours with different drivers popping in and out all the time. We were never too close to the other car that was bleeding us dry at the ATMs. Some of the guys who drove us tried to be friendly. One guys introduced himself as Hashemoe and told us he was Somalian and head of this mafia. 'Somalia is so poor we have to do this, its just money!'. Another guy called, 'Nice' told us he was in college and needed the money. Nice actually gave us his number and siad that he wanted to hang out the next day!!! what?! We tried our best to be chatty and pleasant with them as we wanted to 'co-operate!'. They asked us our names and we exchanged small talk. They assured us we'd be ok and that it was just about money.
Next Nice warned us that the others were possibly plotting something else which really freaked me out. I started thinking of all sorts of things.. two girls and about fifteen guys!! I was petrified. He wanted to drop us at a hotel asap and asked if we'd go without our cards. We told him that we needed them. Another guy (who is supposedly a police man) got our cards for us and we were dumped at a hotel near to where the incident took place at about 5am. They warned us not to go to the police. Nice told us that he was attacked by the mafia himself. He showed us a scar he had from when he tried to report the incident. Now hes a member of the mafia!
We reported this to the police the following day but one of the guys involved could very well have been a police man! We got police reports but didnt feel like anything would be done. We had left when i realised they didnt have our number and id a few more questions for the police lady more questions about our case. She advised us to go upstairs to the head (who didnt seem to give a hoot). Here we identified the big sweaty guy from a photo book of the bad guys at the police station. Had i not gone back to the lady with more questions she wouldnt have told us to go upstairs to the head.
I just wanted to share this info for anyone travelling around Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar. Ive heard about 4 similar stories.This is happening all the time and I dont think the police are doing anything about it.
Nov 18, 2012 7:30 AM
1Thanks for taking the time to post this. I think a timely warning NOT to use taxis that hang about bus stations, train stations where budget travellers are arriving. The airport seems safe enough and I recently arrived by myself at 2 am and as my prearranged pick up from a reputable hotel never showed up (they NEVER do - its 4 times I've arranged it now and will never waste my time again) I took one of the taxis and fortunately had no problems instead a very polite, respectful and helpful driver. Outside of this I only use two very trusted taxi drivers that I've known for years and were initially recommended by resident families who also used them. It is very sad to see Tanzania being ruined this way and also very sad to see how ineffectual and uncaring the local police force is. Take warning from this to always exit any taxi where another man climbs in - no matter HOW inconvenient it may seem.
Nov 20, 2012 10:30 AM
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