11 Mar 2008

Samoa government to help out those hit financially by drive switch

9:09 pm on 11 March 2008

Samoa's deputy prime minister says the government may look at setting up its own insurance agency to make sure insurance premiums don't rise when the switch is made to right hand drive.

A special parliamentary committee in Samoa has rejected two petitions opposing the government's proposal to have vehicles drive on the left hand side of the road.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Misa Telefoni, says the government is confident the change will benefit Samoa.

He says the government will help out those who find themselves out of pocket.

"Well for instance, in terms of the insurance premiums, if it's established that insurance companies will have to put up their premiums by 200 percent, then we may just have to set up a government insurance agency to make sure premiums stay where they are. There are things we can do that are drastic, we're certainly going not sit back and let our private sector suffer."

However, Misa Telefoni says the government will try to avoid financially compensating people.

Meanwhile, the manager of a car dealership in Samoa says she's frustrated at the goverment's lack of dialogue with businesses who are affected by the planned switch to right hand drive.

Despite the government promise of help for those who find themselves out of pocket, the manager of Samoa's Hyundai car dealership, C.C.K. Trading Limited, Georgina Newton says the business is already losing money.

She says sales ground to a halt when the announcement to switch to right hand drive was made and stemming the rise of insurance premiums won't be of any real benefit.

Especially for rental car companies, they'll have to change their whole fleet. I'm part of the rental car association and I know the people in the rental car assocation don't want to be renting out left hand drives driving on the wrong side of the road and they'll be wanting to switch to right hand drives. And that's a huge financial expenditure.

Georgina Newton