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

COLOMBO, Jan 13, 2017 (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Friday 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 percent 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 ($3.3) to 25,000 rupees ($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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