Sri Lanka clamps down on tuk-tuks as death toll mounts

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Friday (Jan 13) tightened the rules governing the around one million tuk-tuks – rickety three-wheel taxis – on its streets after road traffic accidents claimed a record 3,000 lives last year.

The transport ministry said all tuk-tuks must now have head and tail lights, and made it an offence for drivers to smoke while carrying passengers.

All three-wheelers will also have to be fitted with fare meters and issue receipts to passengers, it said in a notice in the country’s official gazette.

The transport ministry also made it mandatory for the ubiquitous tuk-tuks to have electrically operated windscreen wipers and cabin lights.

Police estimate that 3,000 people died on Sri Lanka’s roads last year and about 15 per cent of those were tuk-tuk passengers.

Another 100,000 people are seriously wounded in traffic accidents each year in Sri Lanka.

Last month, the government announced raising the minimum traffic fines from about 500 rupees (US$ 3.3) to 25,000 rupees (US$ 166) in a bid to make Sri Lankan roads safer.

The vast majority of three wheelers in Sri Lanka have been imported from neighbouring India and most of them are in poor condition.

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