Protests and Anger As Country Readies for Driving Lane Switch

Samoa is readying itself for a countrywide transition that is shaking up the island country's roughly 200,000 people. Beginning September 7th, Samoans will be required to drive on the left side of the road.

The move is said to be the first major lane-direction switch in any country in more than 30 years, and locals are fuming. Huge protests have broken out over a plan that many say will hurt the tiny country more than it will help.

"The prime minister who hatched Samoa's scheme, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, refuses to do a U-turn. Road-switch opponents are just trying to rattle the government, he says. He has compared a prominent opponent of the switch to a local "avaava" fish -- a sea creature that swims in shallow waters and eats garbage, an insult in Samoan culture.

The main reason for Samoa's switch is that two of its biggest neighbors, Australia and New Zealand, drive on the left-hand side, whereas Samoa currently drives on the right, as in the U.S. By aligning with Australia and New Zealand, the prime minister says, it will be easier for poor Samoans to get cheap hand-me-down cars from the 170,000 or so Samoans who live in those two countries. It could also help more people escape tsunamis, says Mr. Tuilaepa."

Thanks to Ishmael Sanchez

Full Story: Shifting the Right of Way to the Left Leaves Some Samoans Feeling Wronged

Comments

Build Your Own Paper Block City

Urban Fold is an all-inclusive kit that allows anyone to build the city of their dreams with a few simple folds.
$24.95
building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
$25
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month