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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid