Final arrival for Mercy Trucks
In the world of long-haul trucking unforeseen obstacles can be the name of the game: tires blown, road conditions uncontrollable, but when Roy Dixon and his two-man crew steered their 40-foot container truck onto the road January 21 they had no idea that they would be stuck between Spain and Morocco in “no man’s land,” according to Dixon, for nearly three weeks.
This particular Mercy Trucks expedition, accompanied by Stephen Pennell and cameraman Britton Foster, is taking humanitarian aid and medical equipment to Guinea Bissau in West Africa and was expecting to take 23 days to cross 4,600 miles and nine borders. Things took an unexpected turn about a week into the trip.
“We have been stuck in the port in Morocco running around with various agents, spending money/fees etc. going from one office to another and we are no further forward than we were when we arrived here 4 days ago,” wrote Dixon in an email dated January 31.
Upon their arrival in Morocco the team was expected to pay a bond of 33,000 euros to begin the process to obtain transit clearance. In trips past, the British consulate was able to provide a document called the ‘Autorisation De Caution Morale’ to allow for an easy gateway. This guaranteed transit is no longer available however, due to people traveling under the auspice of humanitarian aid abusing such documents. The team is also not allowed back into Europe for the same reason.
In an email written by the Mercy Trucks team February 16, they reported: “We drove down to the Mauritanian border as told to by the customs office in Tangiers, as it is here where we will receive our bond/guarantee money back. When we got there they told us you will have to turn around and drive back north 410Km to the city of Dakhla, but hurry as they are closed on Saturday afternoon. So I drove through the night to get here first thing on Saturday morning, [but upon arrival were told] sorry we are closed today you will have to wait until Monday.”
Another reason for the delay was due to lack of currency. The team needed euros and there is a not a sufficient supply among banks and automatic teller machines in Dakhla. “The largest bank here in Dakhla only has 300 Euros and we need to change 5,000,” reported Dixon. “Looks like we are stuck here.”
Hope was not lost though and thanks to the team’s diligence the truck arrived to their destination yesterday, February 22. “Now that the getting here is finished the real work begins,” wrote Foster in an email.
And good work it is. The team is delivering medical, dental, agricultural and educational aid and equipment to Guinea Bissau, where they will stay for four months. The truck itself is converted into the mobile medical and dental unit, which acts as a catalyst toward the construction of a permanent health facility.
“We finally arrived last night after 32 days, 21 of which we spent dealing with customs. It cost three times as much and it took three times as long, but usually the better something is the harder you have to work for it. The truck is sitting in a customs checkpoint two miles down the road and awaiting its huge welcoming party; as am I,” wrote Foster.
Mercy Trucks is a part of Marine Reach Ministries, a ministry of Youth With A Mission. For more information on Mercy Trucks projects in Africa or other parts of the world please visit www.mercytrucks.org or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.