Nepal switches sides on the road!

Check this out…this is obviously going to have an effect, on my trip! A month ago the Nepalese government announced that the road regulations are going to change. The country had the traditional hallmark of a region influenced by the UK–cars driving on the left side of the road with steering wheels on the right-hand side.  But now, conversion kits are going to be offered to help drivers switch over in what is being called the “New Nepal”. Just think, I’ll be there right as this is taking place.

The Ministry of Labour and Transportation Management announced in Kathmandu today that Nepal will switch from driving on the left side of the road to driving on the right. The statement also said that the government will offer subsidized conversion kits for existing vehicles with right-side steering.

Transport Enhancement Division spokesman Latta Man Singh made the announcement in a joint news conference with police officials. He said that the proposal had been initiated by the Traffic Police after all other attempts to manage Kathmandu’s chaotic roads had failed. Singh said that his ministry had supported the idea from the beginning and saw it as a modernization step.

Pretty cool, isn’t it? I think this is going to be a very exciting event of cultural significance that I will have the chance to witness when I arrive in the country. Before I go to Nepal, I will be in India, which still maintains its left-side driving regulations, granted its history with the UK. From what I hear, traffic can be chaotic in India so maybe a which side of the road the cars are driving on won’t be my biggest worry. I’ve had the experience before anyways, a couple years ago when I was in Ireland and drove a jeep around the fields of Sligo.

Here you can see the Nepalese minister point out the British influence…

“We drive on the left only because the British forced India to do so,” he said. “People in the most developed countries drive on the right side of the road, and in the New Nepal we will too. That’s sure to encourage development in Nepal.”

The change will be phased in gradually according to Singh. Initially only government vehicles with yellow and white license plates will switch to right-side driving. After two weeks black-plate commercial vehicles will change over, and eventually private autos with red license plates will join them. The process is scheduled to be completed within 60 days.

Well, all I can say is I am very excited about seeing this “New Nepal” regardless of which side of the road its citizens will be driving on.  The rest of the story above can be viewed in the link at the top of this post.


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