News / Africa

Sierra Leone Bans Right-Hand Vehicles as Hazards

Sierra Leone has deemed right-hand drive vehicles unlawful. Citizens, business must convert from right-hand to left-hand drive by Sept. 1, 2014.
Sierra Leone has deemed right-hand drive vehicles unlawful. Citizens, business must convert from right-hand to left-hand drive by Sept. 1, 2014.
— Sierra Leone is banning the import and use of right-hand drive vehicles, which officials say cause 70 percent of road accidents in a country where left-hand drive is the standard.  While many people applaud the move, others worry what will happen to businesses that are used to right-hand vehicles.
 
Salieu Sesay has been a taxi driver for 15 years in Freetown.  He currently uses a right-hand drive vehicle and is not happy about the ban that officially came into effect September 1.
 
He said that his boss, who owns his taxi and several others, only has right-hand drive vehicles.  Sesay worries that his boss will not replace the vehicles and he will be out of a job.
 
Another taxi driver in Freetown, Frank Coker, starts up his car and gets ready for a working day.  He also disagrees with the ban, even though his vehicle is left-hand drive.  He said many taxi drivers are worried how will they get money to buy another car.  "I would prefer to stop the importation of the right-hand vehicle rather than banning the ones that are already in the country," he stated.
 
Sierra Leone used right-hand drive vehicles when it was a British colony.  But soon after independence in 1960, the country switched to left-hand driving as it is more common around the world.
 
Minister of Transportation and Aviation Leonard Balogun Koroma implemented the ban at the beginning of this month, but said it has actually been illegal to drive them for two years in Sierra Leone.

"The road traffic regulation act of 2011 states no vehicle that has its steering apparatus fitted on right-hand side of a vehicle shall be allowed to register or operate on the streets," he noted.
 
Koroma said drivers of right-hand cars have until September 1, 2014 to switch their cars over to left-hand driving through professional technicians.  
 
He said the ban is part of Sierra Leone's efforts to comply with United Nations development goals and decade of action, which include improving road safety worldwide.
 
According to the United Nations, road accidents are serious health problem for young people worldwide.  It is the number one cause of death for those aged 15 to 29 and the second biggest killer of men aged 30 to 40, after AIDS.

Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority public relations officer Abdul Karim Dumbuya says 26 percent of the cars in the country are right-hand drive and cause 70 percent of the accidents.

"If you are moving and you want to overtake along the highway, if you are driving a right hand vehicle, you will not see a vehicle coming from the back," he said. "Most times they [drivers] have to ask, please, look there if it is safe to overtake, most times they have to ask a passenger sitting on the left, and it is not safe."
 
He notes a recent accident in the town of Makeni, two hours north of Freetown, that killed 17 people and was caused by a right-hand drive truck.
 
It is because of accidents like that business owner Yazid Rashid is applauding the ban, even though he had to cancel a shipment of new right-hand drive cars coming in.
 
"I used to own fleets of vehicles which are right-hand drive.  So I was thinking of doing it again, and then this ban took effect.  So it affected me economically as I was saying, financially.  But it is still OK.  Saving lives should be more paramount than our own financial gains," he said. "I want to be selfless and follow the U.N. decade of action, because we need to travel on the road where everyone will be safe."
 
And that is the message Minister Koroma hopes all Sierra Leoneans will eventually get.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mackie Bendu from: UK
September 22, 2013 10:17 AM
Am not a politician, but am quite happy as a Sierra Leonean that the government is more focus about her citizens 's safety. I have been following developments in Sierra Leone through the internet. The current Government is more focus on the country economic and future infrastructural developments. WELL DONE TO THE PRESIDENT FOR HIS LEADERSHIP AND NO NONSENSE ATTITUDE TO CORRUPTIONS!!!!!

These types of initiatives well definitely save lives. Thanks to the entire government for such a vision. Safety should always comes first and human lives should always be a priority!!!


by: gibrilla from: london
September 20, 2013 5:55 PM
I support the banning of the right hand drive vehicles ,But i think the government should do more to improve driving skills in the country . Because most of the drivers in the country don't even knows the rules .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid