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Nigeria Changed from Right-Hand Drive to left-Hand Drive in 1972, Here is Why the Move Was Made 51 Years Ago



Nigeria Changed from Right-Hand Drive to left-Hand Drive in 1972, Here is Why the Move Was Made 51 Years Ago

It was during Major-General Yakubu Gown’s administration as the Head of State that Nigeria dumped the right-hand driving orientation for the left-hand drive.

The historic monumental decision was made on exactly Sunday, April 2, 1972, and had a significant impact on the safety and efficiency of the country’s roads.

How Nigeria changed to left-hand drive in 1972, why Nigeria changed from righ hand drive in 1972Nigeria changed to a left-hand drive in 1972.
Photo Credit: Aleksandr Zyablitskiy, Copyright Crezalyn Nerona UratsujiSource: Getty Images

There were however certain concerns that inspired the decision to dump the British model of driving.

This article will be examining those reasons as well as some interesting sides to that particular driving decision.

Why Nigeria made the switch to left-hand drive in 1972

As international trade increased during that period and as the West African country became more modernised, it became evident that the right-hand style of driving was a stumbling block for Nigerian drivers.

According to HistoryVille, at that period, Nigeria was encompassed by French colonies who were right-handed by model.

The drivers from these French colonies such as Chad, Cameroon and Niger made use of Nigeria’s borders and ports while Nigeria’s drivers delivered goods with much confusion. And so, switching to the left-hand drive made so much sense and fixed the problem.

Also, countries that use the left-hand drive make up a sixth of the world’s area and a quarter of its road. Plus, most left-hand drive countries are giant automobile producers.

Apart from the switch being to improve safety and efficiency on the roads, Nigeria changed her driving model to be in tandem with other West African nations many of whom had already made the switch.

Challenges associated with the left-hand drive switch

The transition was not without its challenges, however. For one thing, there was a significant cost associated with converting Nigeria’s entire vehicle fleet, including buses, taxis, and personal cars, to left-hand drive.

This was a financial burden that fell largely on the shoulders of ordinary Nigerians, many of whom struggled to make ends meet.

There were also concerns about the potential impact on Nigeria’s auto industry, which was largely focused on producing right-hand drive vehicles for the domestic market.

To address these concerns, the Nigerian government provided incentives to local car manufacturers to switch to left-hand drive production, and also allowed for a period of transition during which right-hand drive vehicles could still be used on the roads.

There is no gainsaying that the switch has been a successful one.

Team of Nigerian engineers constructs a locally-made car

Meanwhile, THETALK.NG previously reported that a team of Nigerian engineers had constructed a locally-made car.

A team of engineers led by Alex Ephraim Akwiwu produced a car called IYI Celebrity, with locally-sourced materials. The company, Ephraim and Jeoana Akwiwu Auto Shop, launched the car in Owerri, the capital of Imo state.

It should be noted that Alex was trained in Europe as an automobile engineer. He is also the CEO of the company that built the IYI Celebrity.

The CEO said that the plan to go into local production of vehicles began in 2011, an idea that was later made possible with the application of advanced technology in motor production and maintenance.

In 2016, the company produced its first vehicle named IYI Combatant with a new version of the car released a year after in 2017.


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