The Automobile Policy of Myanmar, which transportation experts have been working on for the past two years, is expected to recommend the left-hand drive importation policy. The Myanmar Engineering Society (MES), which is drawing up the policy, has said the draft will be complete within six months.
Myanmar drives on the right. But its major source of imported vehicles, Japan, drives on the left. So most Japanese cars imported from Japan are right-hand drive. The word on the street seems to be that drivers prefer it that way, even though driving a right-hand drive vehicle on the right side of the road can cause inconvenience, and may even undermine road safety.
Many drivers seem to be so used to driving on the “wrong” side that they are reluctant to change. Some say they are not convinced that changing to right or left-hand drive will necessarily improve traffic. For many drivers, it’s a question of quality. Even though Japan, the most popular car-maker, does produce left-hand drive vehicles, some fear they are just not as good.
The New Japanese cars are the best, and the best Japanese cars are right-hand drive. The cars they produce for countries that drive on the right may not be as good. Even used Japanese right-hand drive cars were better than new left-hand drive vehicles. Importers worry that any change in the law could affect shipping charges and waiting times if vehicles are imported from other countries, and the market potential for them could be reduced.
At a round-table expert discussion last November, one participant, the chair of the Myanmar Automobile Manufacturers’ and Distributors’ Association (MAMDA), even suggested that the government yield to the inevitable and declare that drivers should keep left instead of right, as they used to do before the country switched to right-hand driving in 1970. But after all discussion, it seems that decision is not so easy as right hand drive Japanese cars has already captured country’s roads more than the left hand drive cars.