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In Sierra Leone, police to ban right hand vehicles?

In Sierra Leone, police to ban right hand vehicles?

I read an article in the Awareness Times newspaper on Wednesday 7th December 2011, with the heading “In Sierra Leone, Police to Ban Right Hand Vehicles”. This was a statement made by the head of the Police traffic division Superintendent Ambrose M Sovula, as his assertion was that 3 to 5 daily fatal accidents reported in the city were as a result of right hand vehicles disobeying traffic rules.  (Photo: Alphonso Williams, UK – author)

I want to first of all ask if the Police have the authority to ban right vehicles or is it not the Ministry of Transport who are responsible to make these laws?  That’s why we have the Road Traffic Act. The job of the Police is to implement and enforce the law not to create them. I will also like to ask the Police Superintendent to provide us with the statistics of all road accidents that were reported to the Police for this year and how many of them involve right hand drive vehicles. 

The cause of road accidents in Sierra Leone is not primarily to do with right hand drive vehicles. The main causes of these accidents are unqualified, unskilled drivers and vehicles that are not roadworthy. Most drivers both commercial and private do not obey driving and traffic rules and road signs. In Sierra Leone one can get a driving licence without taking a driving test, what do you expect in a situation like that? Before someone can legally drive in the United Kingdom, they have to take a theory and practical test to prove their ability to read road signs, assess driving situations, and prove that they can be trusted to drive a motor vehicle. What the Police in Sierra Leone should be concentrating on is educating the drivers on safe driving rules and obeying traffic rules, as if and when they don’t, the result could be catastrophic. 

There are lots of left hand drive vehicles in the UK as it is the only country in Europe that still uses right hand drive vehicles. But that does not cause a lot of road accidents. Also people in the United Kingdom drive to France, Belgium, Germany, Holland etc, and this does not increase the accident rate in these countries. 

Has the Superintendent stopped to think about how many people he will be making unemployed by banning these vehicles, and also how many households will suffer if this happens? 

The Police should be using the print and electronic media to sensitise the people about how to be safe whilst using both left hand and right hand drive vehicles, and not using right hand drive vehicle owners to score cheap points. 

Alphonso Williams, United Kingdom 

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  • Since when has it become the right of Sierra Leone Police Force (Traffic Division) to pass laws in the country? Undoubtedly I could sense a lot of ignorance emanating from the officer who made the utterance and I very much believe that he made it out of lack of knowlege of our legislative process and a blatant disregard for the Police Spokesperson. In qualifying right hand vehicles to be responsible for most accidents, he failed to reveal necessary statistics to back his claim. In so much as I feel that the ill trained DDR drivers (a majority of them could not read and or write)are mostly responsible for the high level of accidents in conjunction with nearly all the OKADA riders not holding licences; the officer should have directed his thoughts to getting those unqualified operators off our roads and minimising road chaos. Rather; there is a concerted effort by senior officials in the Force to look the other way when their palms are greased with Leones when the OKADA and ILLETERATE DDR DRIVERS commit ofences and are sent off after bribing officers. I was once involved in a scrape at the Lumley Roundabout; the Taxi coming from the Lumley Beach direction decided that for ease of driving he could just avoid the roundabout; hitting me on my side in full view of an officer; who then naively ordered me to move my vehicle. I refused insisting that details of the accident be recorded. He failed to observe that a passenger in my vehicle was filming his intervention and it then revealed that he had taken a “backhander” from the driver of the taxi. On confronting him that I would make an official report, his senior officer came along to plead it was an oversight on the part of his junior officer trying to convince me that my day will be wasted if I attempted to report the matter. I eventually did but was not written and or told the outcome. So we ought to look at accidents and their causes before we could make qualified statements.

    16th December 2011
  • Banning right hand drive!

    The said police suggesting the banning of right hand drive for misplaced reasons, is demonstrating acute ignorance of the global community we reside. I don’t need to repeat Alphonso Williams’ well put across comments. I am aware of the chronic rumour about the banning of right hand drive in Sierra Leone. The wider implication of such action should be considered by the people and government of Sierra Leone, who are the sole authorities to legislate such decision. Such decision will fall foul with all and sundry.

    8th December 2011
  • I really accept the fact that people are going to suffer if they are taken out of job But I believed that whatever or whoever is going to suffer the rules are going to be put in place so as to enbale things to work in a very proactive manner with time things are f=going to improve

    7th December 2011
  • If the Government were to ban the use of Right Hand Drive vehicles in Sierra Leone, it wuld have a significant impact of the movement of goods, services and people in the country which will have profound impact on the economy.

    The Government should focus its attention on eradicating okadas (which are neither left or right hand, vehicles which are not road worthy which constantly emit poisonous fumes and damaging the health of people and also the dangerous vehicles which have no brakes, no headlights, etc.

    Unless the country has reliable dealerships and repair and maintenance facilities then any such ban, is only bound to affect the economy of Siera Leone. If West African economic power houses like Nigeria and Ghana have not imposed such a ban, why would Sierra Leone. Also, what happens to the vehicles already registered in the country and is the govenment going to compensate individual and business if such a ban is introduced.

    7th December 2011

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