KIGALI - In a bid to harmonise with the rest of East African Community (EAC), Rwanda could soon switch to Left-Hand-Drive (LHD) system, according to a recent study carried out by the Ministry of Infrastructure.
The survey conducted by top MINIFRA consultants indicates that 52 percent of the people interviewed, favour the switch to the left, while 32 percent would prefer to maintain the current system.
In an interview with The New Times, Infrastructure Minister Eng. Linda Bihire, confirmed the development but could not give more details of the report because it has not been officially approved. She instead cautioned that there shouldn’t be any public excitement since the report is not conclusive.
“All I can confirm to you is that the study was indeed done and the report is yet to go to the Cabinet, but for the moment I can’t confirm the findings and there is no need to speculate.
The report is in its early stages,” Bihire told The New Times.
The plan to change from left-hand drive vehicles to right-hand-drive has been in the pipeline since the country joined the EAC in a bid to harmonise traffic rules with the rest of the region.
“The study is also based on different aspects ranging from the advantages of owning left hand cars. They are less costly, easy to maintain and they literally give the driver the power to own the road while driving.” Bihire added.
This means that once the findings of the study are confirmed Right-Hand-Drive cars which government had planned to phase out will be returning to Rwandan roads.
While addressing Senators on the problems to do with the shortage of Passenger Service Vehicles (PSV) in the City centre earlier this year, Minister Bihire, attributed the problem to the higher cost of LHD vehicles as compared to the conventional RHD ones.
She said these are relatively cheaper and informed parliament that government was considering reversing the decision to get the vehicles off the road.
“Even if the decision is made, it will be a process that will take some time. We will have to re-map the roads and how to avoid traffic jams, accidents and all those things. It will also take time to know which vehicles we can phase out and which ones to allow,” the Minister said.
The government has since 2005 banned the importation of Right Hand Drive Vehicles and had planned to phase them out by the end of September 2009.