APIA — Many Samoans were left stranded with most of the country's buses off the road two days after the Pacific Island nation's historic shift to driving on the left.
Only around 18 buses in the country have had their doors shifted from the right side to the left -- necessary to stop passengers having to get on and off in the middle of the road.
Buses with doors on the right hand side have been banned from operating since Monday, leaving the vast majority off the road.
Taxis were busy and many work places had to make hurried arrangements to transport their workers to and from work in the nation of 180,000 people.
Many bus owners had decided not to modify their vehicles leading up to Monday's switch after the government refused to pay thousands of dollars in compensation for the work.
Bus owner representatives met Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi Wednesday to ask for an extension of three to six months to allow them to operate before completing modifications.
"I think this is the problem -- a few of the bus owners did not believe that we would proceed (with the switch)," Tuilaepa said after the meeting, referring to strong opposition from Samoans leading up to the changeover.
He added the government would give the bus owners an answer on Thursday to their request.
The driving switch -- the first in the world since the 1970s -- brings Samoa into line with New Zealand and Australia, where around 170,000 people of Samoan descent live.
Tuilaepa says the switch will allow Samoans in New Zealand to send vehicles back to their relatives in Samoa and for cheap second hand imports from Singapore and Japan.
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