What does it take to get all of the supplies to build a storage unit and office to Bombo Majimoto?
Let me set the scene:
The garlic has already been harvested, and will need to be stored soon (within 3-4 weeks). You are building on Mzee Shebe’s land, where you built the greenhouses. His land is set off the road, with only a narrow path winding through multiple farms leading up to it. There is no way you can transport all of the supplies you need by motorcycle or by hand, because you realize you need hundreds of giant rocks that are too heavy for one person to lift, thousands of bricks, 50 bags of cement, and 3 full truckloads of sand to mix with that cement, along with other supplies. You have been waiting for the people in the surrounding farms to harvest their corn to pass a car through. After meeting with a contractor, you go to talk to the people of the farms, and they tell you they have finished harvesting, but have already replanted! They give you 3 days to drive over the land in a truck before their corn starts to sprout. You are also entering into the rainy season, and if heavy rains come, the truck you rent cannot get up the mountain to Kwemkole, where all of your supplies are waiting to be transported. Also, there are no trucks, or cars for that matter, in Bombo to rent, so you either have to wait for a car to pass through and ask what their availability is, or you must find cell reception to call places outside of Bombo to find a truck.
What did we do?
We ended up getting in touch with Mr. Bodo from Magoma, who then put us in touch with a man who has access to a dump truck. The dump truck would not be available until Wednesday (the last day we were permitted to pass a car through the land and the day before I had to go into Korogwe for 4 days for a meeting). We ordered the truck, and followed through every day until we went to pick it up.
Now, I would like to walk you through some of the challenges and complexities that we have met throughout this process, along with some of our big decisions and ways to surmount these challenges.
6:10am – Get on the bus with Saidi, a Bombo 2Seeds piki driver who is helping you out, to go to Magoma, a little over an hour away, to get the dump truck
7:30am – Arrive in Magoma and head over to the shop to get the dump truck. The owner has accidentally sent the truck somewhere else, and asks you to come back tomorrow. You tell him absolutely not. You have already paid to get to Magoma, it’s the last day until to transport the supplies before the corn sprouts, and you have to be in Korogwe tomorrow. He apologizes. You ask him (tell him) to find another truck.
9:30am – After 2 hours, he finds a truck that was supposed to work in Magoma all day, and changes their schedule. They pack the truck with 50 bags of cement, 47 tin roof pieces, 13 pieces of rebar, and 8 bags of wall paint, and you are on your way to Bombo!
10:30am – You realize en route that you have way too many supplies to take off the truck, and must assemble a team who has had previous experience to do it, or you will lose a ton of valuable time, as you are renting the truck for just one day. Luckily, in the road, you come across the group of men who always take bags of corn off of their giant truck, and you ask them for help. You realize you will have to pay them, another expense in this process that you did not realize you needed to account for because you have never done this before.
11am – It’s a good thing you found those men to help you out, because only 3 Partners showed up to help take things off the truck. After trekking through the farms over rough terrain, you realize the truck has been punctured and has a leak that needs to be fixed. You lose a little time, but the experienced workers do their best to fix it quickly.
11:30am – You head up the mountain to Kwemkole to get the first batch of rocks (originally thinking rocks would be 2 trips).
12:45pm – You realize that because you are in a giant dumptruck and the driver is not used to the road, it takes over an hour to get up the mountain, usually a 30 minute trip. You get to the first set of rocks, but the workers who have agreed to put them on the truck are nowhere to be seen. Saidi goes to look for them, but you are losing time. You, Hamdani, and the truck assistant start heaving rocks into the truck, most too big for just one person to lift. You fill the entire truck in 40 minutes, and as you throw in the last one, the workers show up. Great timing… You tell them to return in 2 hours to get the second round. They tell you that the truck only holds ¼ of the rocks you need, so instead of 2 trips, you will need 4.
2pm – You get back to Mzee Shebe’s and pour out the rocks. The driver reminds you that they have not eaten, so you head back to Bombo to get food.
2:30pm – In the 20 minutes the driver and his assistant are getting food, you go with Hamdani to find rocks in Bombo to reduce your travel time to Mzee Shebe’s and get more trips in during 1 day. You negotiate a price with a man who is willing to sell his rocks that he was planning to use later. It is a bit more expensive, but the closer distance means you can get them all today. You have already planned with the men in Kwemkole to come get another truckload of rocks, so you head up for what you think will be your last trip.
3:00pm – Head up the mountain.
3:45pm – The next set of rocks are off the beaten path, the truck barrels through the bush where a team of men are waiting to load them. You tell the men you will not need more rocks today.
4:45pm – You arrive back to Mzee Shebe’s and unload the second batch of rocks. You now head to Makorokoro, in the opposite direction of Kwekole, to get bricks. Talking to the driver, you realized the truck can hold 1,000 bricks at 1 time because the road is so bad and he does not want to overload. That means you will now have to make 4 trips for the bricks. You get to Makorokoro (20 minutes away), only to be told that the bricks you ordered were sold 20 minutes ago to someone in the seller’s family who showed up with cash. You have now lost 40 minutes of time and have no bricks. Had you had cell reception, you could have been called about this sale, but you don’t. You head back to Bombo to get more rocks, but realize there is nobody to load them into the truck.
5:00pm – You ask the rock seller if putting the rocks on the truck is included in the price (which is already inflated), and he refuses. You cannot find a team to load them, and you are losing time, so you send Saidi back up the mountain on his piki to alert the men you had already planned and worked with, to prepare more rocks. You head up the mountain in the truck.
5:45pm – The men put another batch in the truck and you head back down the mountain.
6:45pm – You pour out the last batch of rocks at Mzee Shebe’s. It is almost dark and you can no longer continue working. The driver and his assistant leave, and you and Saidi return to Bombo.
While today was extremely productive, there were many opportunities to learn from in order to plan better in the future. You still need to get sand to mix the cement, small rocks to build, and 4,000 bricks (which now need to be created again).
You realize you will have to continue to drive over the farms, so you will have to compensate the owner. But you are going to Korogwe tomorrow, and the weekend is the presidential election, so most work is shutting down. The contractor wants to start work the following week, but needs all of the supplies. What do you do? See next week’s post to find out!