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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More