Hopes for talks on new auto law

Association seeking three-year grace period for implementing the switch to left-hand drive cars

Cyclists and cars travel along Bayintnaung Bridge No. 2 Hlinethaya Township. Photo: Ye Myint
Cyclists and cars travel along Bayintnaung Bridge No. 2 Hlinethaya Township. Photo: Ye Myint

Some of the more contentious changes earmarked for the country’s auto market will be up for discussion with ministry personnel and industry bodies soon, said the president of the country’s auto association on Wednesday.
Following the enactment of the new automobile law on 7 September, concerns have arisen amongst vehicle users and auto dealers about how and when the mandatory use of left-hand drive cars will be implemented in Myanmar.
The provision is contained in a new draft automobile policy that was drawn up by the private sector and which is likely to be submitted to the government within the next week, said Dr Soe Tun, president of Myanmar Automobile Manufacturers and Dealers Association.  The policy was drawn up by private sector representatives for manufacturing cars in Myanmar
Although the policy proposes that left-hand drive cars in Myanmar should not become mandatory until the end of 2018, the new law stipulates that left-hand drive cars will become mandatory in Myanmar in early 2016. It is expected to be among the law’s associated rules and regulations, which must be released within 90 days of the enactment of the new legislation.
“We’d like to request the government’ to implement the switch to left-hand drive in accordance with the proposals contained in the policy,” he added.
“As far as I know, the details about making the switch in the rules and regulations of the new law are not set in stone,” he said.
The Road Transport Administration Department has said that it aims to eliminate the use of right-hand drive cars, because Myanmar’s right-hand side traffic lane system makes them very unsafe.
Dr Soe Tun said that auto dealers are anxious about what will happen to all the right-hand drive vehicles still in showrooms when the new law comes into force, and are united in hoping for an adequate grace period for the switch to be made.
According to the association, there are more than 100 car showrooms in Yangon and some 30,000 right-hand drive cars that are still up for sale.
Dr Soe Tun said that due to Myanmar consumers’ preference for right-hand drive cars manufactured in Japan as opposed to Korea and China with left-hand steering, the overwhelming majority of the 400,000-odd cars that were imported after import rules were relaxed are right-hand drive.
Spare parts for Korean and Chinese autos are hard to come by and most people cannot afford to buy new European cars, he said, adding that local mechanics are more familiar with right-hand drive vehicles.
According to the association’s president, other points expected to be discussed with ministries include new measures for vehicles importation and
the registration of car dealers.

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