Oddly Enough

Congo angers easterners with right-hand drive ban

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo is banning right-hand drive cars in an effort to improve dire road safety, angering drivers in the vast country’s south and east where most vehicles have the steering wheel on the right.

Congolese drive on the right-hand side of the road. The majority of cars in the west of the former Belgian colony, where the capital Kinshasa is located, are imported from continental Europe and are therefore left-hand drive.

But vehicles in the south and east are mostly brought in from Asia via neighbouring Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, former British colonies where cars are right-hand drive.

“Vehicles with the steering wheel on the right are the cause of a lot of accidents on our country’s roads,” Gilles-Benjamin Saidi Kampene, president of the national road safety commission, told Reuters on Tuesday.

“We have granted a 12-month period to give them time to put the steering wheel on the left, and after that they will be banned,” he said.

Some Congolese motorists said the ban was unrealistic.

“Even if I could afford to buy another car, you can’t even find a left-hand drive here,” taxi driver Joseph Kabwe told Reuters from Lubumbashi, capital of the southeastern province of Katanga.