Somalia’s government says it’s prepared to ban the imports and use of the right-hand-drive vehicles in an attempt to improve road safety in the long-chaotic horn of Africa nation which is recovering from decades of civil unrest.
Across the country, motorists drive on the right-hand side of the road, while over 80% of the vehicles are driving right-hand steering-wheel, creating accidents.
Mohamed Abdullahi Salad, Somalia’s minister for Transportation and Civil Aviation told HOL that the implementation of the ban would begin by early October but said that the ban was imposed before but has not been enforced.
“The safety of our roads is a key priority for us, thus banning right-hand drive vehicles that are to blame for most of the road accidents. This is the first step to be taken in improving the safety of roads,” he said in the interview.
Photo file: Mohamed Abdullahi Salad (Omaar), Somalia’s minister for Transportation and Civil Aviation – Photo HOL
Meanwhile, the new bold move by the government which car dealers warned could spark car imports flurry marks the first time in decades that Somali authorities try to switch from the standard right-hand drive cars which has been in use for a long time to the left-drive cars, saying that the right-hand drive cars cause multiple deadly road accidents across the country every year.
Under the new proposal, car-owners would be required to have their steering columns changed from the right to the left.
“The government will also require all auto shop owners to get certification from ministry.” The minister said in the interview, noting that traffic police would start enforcing the new policy.
According to the new 24-clause traffic law issued by the ministry of transportation and aviation, the ban will not affect cars already imported into the country that will only be required to realign their steering system but imposes ban on the importation of more right-handed drive cars into the country.
However, car dealers in Somalia are worried over the impact that the impending ban would have on their businesses, with some say that they have to cancel shipments of new right-hand drive cars coming to the country.