Transport in Samoa
Transport in Samoa includes one international airport situated on the north west coast of Upolu island, paved highways reaching most parts of the two main, one main port in the capital Apia and two ports servicing mainly inter island ferries for vehicles and passengers between the two main islands, Upolu and Savai'i.
total: 866 km (538 mi)
paved: 350 km (217 mi)
unpaved: 516 km (321 mi)
Ports and Harbours
Ports and harbors:
- Asau - Small wharf situated on the north west coast of Savai'i island which is seldom used commercially.
- Mulifanua - The main ferry terminal on Upolu island for passenger, cargo and vehicles to Savai'i island.
- Salelologa - The only ferry terminal on Savai'i island and the main entry point onto the island.
Airports - with paved runways:
under 914m (3,000 ft): 1 (2005)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Change from right-hand to left-hand traffic
Samoa was a German colony until occupied by New Zealand at the beginning of the First World War; until September 2009 it maintained the German practice of driving on the right-hand side of the road. This practice had been in place for more than a century. The plan was first announced by the Samoan government in September 2007 and was confirmed on 18 April 2008 when Samoa's parliament passed the Road Transport Reform Act 2008. On 24 July 2008, Tuisugaletaua Avea, the Minister of Transport, announced that the switch would come into effect at 6:00 am on Monday, 7 September 2009. He also announced that 7 and 8 September 2009 would be public holidays, so that residents would be able to familiarise themselves with the new rules of the road. Samoa thus became the first territory in nearly 40 years to change which side of the road is driven on, the most recent to change being Nigeria, Ghana and Yemen.
A new political party, the People's Party, had formed to try to block the change but was unsuccessful as was the People Against Switching Sides protest group which launched a last-minute legal challenge against the decision. The decision was controversial, with an estimated 18,000 people attending demonstrations against it in Apia in April 2008 and road signs reminding people of the change were vandalised. The motor industry was also opposed to the decision as 14,000 of Samoa's 18,000 vehicles were designed for right-hand driving and the government refused to meet the cost of conversion. Bus drivers whose doors would be on the wrong side of the road due to the change threatened to strike in protest of the change.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi said that the purpose of adopting left-hand traffic was to allow Samoans to use cheaper RHD vehicles sourced from Australia, New Zealand or Japan, and so that the large number of Samoans living in Australasia can drive on the same side of the road when they visit their country of origin. He aimed to reduce reliance on expensive, left-hand-drive imports from America. In order to reduce accidents, the government widened roads, added new road markings, erected signs and installed speed humps. The speed limit was also reduced from 35 mph (56 km/h) to 25 mph (40 km/h) and sales of alcohol were banned for three days. Prayers were said by the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa for an accident-free changeover and Samoa's Red Cross carried out a blood donation campaign in case of a surge of accidents.
The change came into force following a radio announcement at 5.50 local time (16.50 GMT) which halted traffic and an announcement at 6.00 (15.00 GMT) for traffic to switch from the right to the left side of the road.
- Bryant, Nick (7 September 2009). "Samoan cars ready to switch sides". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
- Chapman, Paul (8 September 2009). "Samoans jittery over road switch". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
- "Samoan government defeats challenge to road switch plan".
- "Samoan prime minister defends decision to switch driving to left side of the road".
- Jackson, Cherelle (25 July 2008). "Samoa announces driving switch date". The New Zealand Herald.
- "Chaos predicted as Samoa changes driving side". Associated Press. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
- "Outcry as Samoa motorists prepare to drive on left". Reuters. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
- Samoa Observer: Road switch chaos predicted, Samoa Observer March 26, 2009
- Right-to-left driving switch upsets Samoans, Radio Australia, August 12, 2008
- Dobie, Michael (6 September 2009). "Samoa drivers brace for left turn". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
- "Samoan drivers set for shift to the left". AFP. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-07.