EAST African Community (EAC) members states have seemingly agreed to disagree in their attempts to harmonise their traffic regulations.
When it comes to traffic regulations in the EAC, Rwanda and Burundi drive on the ‘right,’ as Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and South- Sudan stand accused of driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.
It was previously proposed to Rwanda and Burundi to change their driving system to the majority members’ driving left, but a commissioned study has ruled out the possibility.
“We commissioned the Bureau of Industrial Cooperation (BICO) of the University of Dar es Salaam to carry out a study on the harmonisation of traffic regulations among EAC member states,including driving sides,” Director of Economics with Kenyan Ministry of EAC Affairs Peter Njoroge said here over the weekend.
He said the study concluded that compelling all member states to drive on one side of the road was impossible because the shift will cost the affected countries billions of money in changing, or totally overhauling their transport infrastructure.
Previously, Rwanda had expressed interest in directing motorists to drive on the left side of the roads but following the study’s conclusion, Kigali may no longer need to bother.
Three years ago, while attending the 17th East African Standards Committee (EASC) conference here, the Deputy Director General of Rwanda Bureau of Standards, Mr Patrice Ntiyamira revealed his country’s plans to shift to the left.
Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda drive on the left side of the road having inherited the system from their former Anglophonic rulers while the Francophone Rwanda and Burundi maintained their culture to drive right.
Motorists operating in the EAC member countries find themselves ‘driving on the wrong sides of the road,’ whenever crossing onto other territories.
Driving on different sides of the road is also proving to be expensive for Rwanda and Burundi, the two land-locked countries that depend on Tanzania and Kenyan coastlines to ship in their vehicles all of which, being destined for East Africa come with the driving wheels fixed on the right.
Once in Rwanda or Burundi, the owners are compelled to spend over 500 US dollars (about 1.2m/-) to shift the cars’ driving systems from the right to the left to fit in the right-side driving conditions.
Over 200,000 motor vehicles are imported into East Africa annually, excluding those assembled in country.