July 04, 2017

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New Auto Law DilemMa — Grace period requested on introduction of left-hand drive cars

Following the enactment of the new automobile law on 7 September, there is growing concern that existing right-hand drive cars will be forced to be replaced with left-hand drive ones.
Following the enactment of the new automobile law on 7 September, there is growing concern that existing right-hand drive cars will be forced to be replaced with left-hand drive ones.

Vehicle users including businesspeople in the country’s auto market have raised concerns about the mandatory use of left-hand drive cars as stated in Myanmar’s new automobile law.
It was one of much-discussed issues concerning the new law enacted last week by attendees to a workshop on a draft automobile policy in Yangon Saturday.
According to the new law, the point is slated to be prescribed in the rules and regulations that must be released within 90 days after the enactment of the new vehicle legislation.
Dr Soe Tun, president of Myanmar Automobile Manufacturers and Dealers Association, said he wonders what will happen to the over 50,000 right-hand drive imported cars parked in car showrooms under the new regulation that will allow only left-hand drive cars on the country’s roads.
In the draft automobile policy that will be submitted to the government soon, it is suggested that use of left-hand drive cars in Myanmar should be mandatory by the end of 2018, he said.
The new law drawn by the Road Transport Administration Department pointed out that use of right-hand drive cars is incompatible with the existing drive-on-the-right traffic system from the standpoint of ensuring road safety in Myanmar.
U Nyan Tun Oo, Yangon Region Minister for Electricity and Industry, suggested a gradual transition from right- to left-hand drive cars.
Instead of halting the use of right-hand drive cars across the whole country, taxis and buses should first be switched over to left-hand drive, with the remaining vehicles to be used outside of traffic-congested cities like Yangon and Mandalay, said the minister.  “People will suffer losses if they are asked to abandon their right-hand drive cars during a short period of time” he said.
One of attendees to the workshop called for a win-win situation while drawing up regulations on left-hand drive car use.
“We have no alternative but to bargain rules and regulations as the law was promulgated”, he said, adding that there should be an acceptable timeframe for phasing out use of right-hand drive cars.
“What are we to do with our right-hand drive cars if the regulation banned license renewals for such cars?” he said.
U Tun Tun Oo, a 40-year-old taxi driver, asked in an interview with The Global New Light of Myanmar daily why right-hand drive vehicles cannot stay on the road.
“If we can drive on the left side of the road, the mandatory use of left-hand drive cars is unnecessary.”
He disagreed with the policy of allowing left-hand drive cars only, pointing out that any laws that have been enacted should be acceptable to everyone concerned who also should be ready to follow it.
Although Myanmar drives on the right side of the road, 99 percent of imported cars that are running on the roads are right-hand drive. This is because people prefer made-in-Japan used cars, which are right-hand drive, to Korean and Chinese autos with left-hand drive.

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