Registering a car in Honiara is fun.
Think Kafka, think They Shoot Horses Don’t They, or that scene in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis with endless queues shuffling endlessly in all directions. Well at least I did, but it wasn’t too bad if you know the steps and get them in the right order and collect all the right bits of paper. Somewhere a printer will be broken or an essential person absent and you will be told “the system is broken”. So don’t leave it to the last moment.
Step One: Pay to get you vehicle inspected.
(In Honiara the vehicle is inspected by a government agency, not your mechanic. It is a good idea to have a copy of last years paperwork with you as a guide.) The payment office is at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development. The entrance is between the library and the Honiara Council roundabout. Take the roundabout exit to the back of Chinatown.
The building is undergoing renovations so the location of the office has recently changed and will again soon. But at the moment it is behind the green door (no signage) down the right hand side, rear of the building from the car park. The cashier is at the far end of the front counter. (I believe they are supposed to make an appointment for you with the inspector, but you will have to ask. Collect your receipt for payment. $138)
Step Two: Have the car inspected.
(This is the only step where you actually need to have the car with you.)
Go back out across the Honiara Council roundabout, the exit where all the buses pull up, and down past Fusion Restaurant, heading towards the sea. You will come to neat little village at the mouth of the Matanika River. Follow the road around through the white gates and straight ahead. You will think you are entering some sort of post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland. You are in the right place. The vehicle inspector is at the far end of the long warehouse on the left. Almost back on Mendana Avenue bar the fence. There is a little cabin/office in the corner. Here you need to provide your receipt of payment and give over your keys to the inspector.
(This was my favourite bit. The first thing that everyone asked me was “Did I had an appointment?” But no-one there that day could tell me the phone number to make an appointment or how i was to go about it. Anyway they weren’t busy and were happy to squeeze me in straight away.) Inspection involves driving the car onto the rails and basically checking if your lights, indicators and horn are working.
You need to collect a signed Inspection Certificate and a Vehicle Inspection Report saying that everything works.
Step Three: Compulsory Third Party Insurance
There are a number of insurance agents at Panatina Plaza that provide these. We used QBE and it costs $147.50. You will need the Certificate and Report from Step Two.
Step Four: Paying for the actual registration
Back to the other end of town to Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MOFT) at the Townground/Ausmart roundabout. Down the alley to where you see the crowd gathering the other side of the blue iron fence.
Window number 2 “vehicle licences” is for car registrations and luckily one of the shorter queues. (Driving licences are obtained from window 1. You need your drivers licence from your home country and your passport and they produce it on the spot.) Early mornings or just after lunch seem to be the best times to avoid long queues. You’ll need all your paperwork and last years if possible.
Most of these offices are closed for lunch between 12 and 1.30ish.
After you pay your $825 you’ll get a tag for your front windscreen and an adhesive plastic pouch to attach it, your receipt and the registration certificate, which is meant to be kept in your car.
All straight forward and easy and you’re good for another year of pothole slalom and air-conditioned commuting and, most importantly, you can get out of town on the weekend. And if in doubt, I believe you can always pay your mechanic or someone else to do it for you. This costs about $700 – $1000 better spent on coffee and cake.
Happy sitting in the traffic queue crawling along at 2kmph.
Coming soon, Cycling in Honiara.