Sunday, August 23, 2009

Drive on the left or the right ?

You drive on the left side of the road in some countries and right in others. Except , of course, if you drive in India where you drive on the left, right, up, down, under, over, fifth dimension, whatever.

Now this is no big deal. Except for some some confusion if you travel between countries which practice the opposite system. Typically in the UK and its former colonies you drive on the left. And in Japan. Everywhere else you drive on the right. Why this is so, is history – if you are really interested in how this came to be, click here. As is the reason with everything that is non standard in the world – voltages, plug pins, mobile frequencies, etc.

There are however a few countries in the world which decide to change ! Now , why they do this, is beyond comprehension. But they do. Nigeria was one famous case decades ago (left to right) – easy to speculate why ; some car companies must have made some people very rich. Since 1970, things have been pretty much stable. But on Sep 7th, this benign and stable way of life will change. The citizens of Samoa, who currently drive on the right , will shift to the left.

No why on earth would the Samoans want to do this. The stated reason is that its two biggest neighbours Australia and New Zealand drive on the left. Therefore if Samoa would drive on the left, it would be easier to get cheap second hand cars from these countries! Double take !!. Once more !!! And because there will be cheaper and more cars, more people can escape tsunamis !!!! (I am not making this up; this is officially stated by the Prime Minister of Samoa).

Now let me state absolutely categorically that this decision was entirely taken for logical reasons, and that the used car industry in Australia did no lobbying, paid no bribes, did absolutely nothing wrong and the entire decision making process was dictated by high logic and forceful arguments and with no other motive.

Such are the perils of decision making by governments.