Since the regulation of banning importation of Right Hand Vehicles (RHV) came into being, concerns have been rising regarding the costs inherently associated with the decision.
The policy came into force at a time when importation of used cars had begun picking momentum. Reasonably, the intent of the policy was to correct rather a traffic incoherent principle. In Rwanda, the driving side was and still is on the right. This therefore necessitated that vehicles should have steering wheel located on the left for the driver to sit near the centerline of the road. The logic is to help the driver make sound judgments of the space available when passing on coming cars and to allow as well passengers to get out of the car onto the pavement instead of into the middle of the road. There could be other reasons.
However, in our situation, it is more about costs involved, life and monetary costs. Left Hand Vehicles are expensive. This is because most used cars destined to Africa come from Japan, where they largely use RH vehicles. The RH vehicles thus are cheaper. Most African countries (former British Colonies) use RH vehicles. Incidentally, there are 74 countries using RH vehicles with a population of 1.9 billion as compared to 166 countries using LH vehicles with a population of 3.8 billion. Since LH vehicles are used in Rwanda, we pay extra money on every imported vehicle compared to other regional states.
In other cases, wheels of RH vehicles have been mechanically to suit/conform to the national policy requirement. The implications are that we have had fatal accident incidents coming from this bizarre wheel change. In some other instances we have not only lost vehicles but life as well.
If the Ministry concerned possibly can review the policy, especially at this time when EAC Members are studying ways of harmonizing traffic rules and regulations.
Kigali Kimironko, Gasabo