The ban on right-hand vehicles might be put on hold, following a general consensus after a meeting that there are garages who are not well equipped to do the conversion of right-hand vehicles to left.
The meeting held yesterday at the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority, attended by drivers, garage owners, and vehicle owners, after a tense debate for the ban to be lifted, agreed that all right-hand vehicles should be registered at the Authority’s offices in the country for tagging and to obtain a statistics of how many right-hand vehicles are presently in the country.
However, the ban was not lifted at the end of the meeting, but vehicle owners said they are willing to convert their vehicles provided they have garages that can do it properly without any fault at the end of the process.
Addressing the gathering, the Authority Executive Director, Dr Sarah Bendu, said from explanations from vehicle owners, drivers’ union and the motor maintenance association, it was clear that there are garages who are capable to do the conversion but lack spare parts and equipment to do the work.
She said while the ban is in place, an engagement will be done between the Authority and the Ministry of Transport who is supervising them, adding that vehicle owners should take their vehicles for registration at their offices, so that tags will be given to them to ply the roads in the country.
Dr Bendu said, the ban will not be suspended indefinitely, adding that if the Authority will do it, it would be based on technical grounds.
The Executive Director said, “the paramount issue for us is that we want the roads to be safe for the drivers, passengers and pedestrians”.
The President, Motor Maintenance Association, Sulaiman Sankoh, said they are constrained in acquiring certification from the Ministry and the Authority to apply for loan from banks to buy spare parts and equipment to do the conversion.
He said there are some garages that can do the conversion but lack the spare parts and equipment, as some vehicles are difficult to convert because of their software.
Sankoh said if they are empowered technically, they will be able to do the conversion effectively.
The President of Vehicle Owners, Abubakarr Fofanah, said they are ready to convert their vehicles, but asked for an extension of time.
A private vehicle owner, Finda Bangura, said she successfully converted her Mercedes C Class car but getting the spare parts at the time of conversion was difficult.
A member of the Civil Society Movement (CSM), Mamoud Kalokoh, also joined to ask for an extension of the ban, based on the condition of the current situation in the country.
A garage owner, Paul Farma, said he has successfully converted right hand vehicles but agreed that getting the spare parts was a problem.
President of Drivers Union, Alpha Bah, said that 513 right hand vehicles are grounded now due to the ban, causing unemployment and the suffering of people for transportation.
He asked that the Authority lifts the ban and allow right hand vehicles to ply the roads at the end of the registration of the vehicles.
By Abibatu Kamara
Tuesday January 13, 2015