Sri Lanka to control three wheelers despite rickety bus service
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning to issue licenses to three wheelers, introducing bureaucratic controls to a popular means of transport developed by the people to fulfil their needs, providing a convenience and night service which government licensed buses with regulated fares are unable to provide.
Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper quoted Transport Minister Ashok Abeysinghe as saying the licenses would be issued by provincial councils, Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper said, adding regulatory barrier to entry.
Out of 6.3 million registered vehicles, 1.05 million are three wheelers, he said.
"Since 65 percent of the vehicles plying our roads are motor-cycles and three wheelers, a regulatory mechanism is needed," he had claimed.
Some analysts warn that the move may give the tools for politicians and bureaucrats to limit the number of licenses issued and collect bribes and political favours. It may also lead to regulation of fares.
The customer will then have to pay through either higher prices or lower quality.
Sri Lanka’s government regulated buses where bus owners themselves protest against the way route licenses are issued give people a dusty and sweaty ride, in crowded conditions.
The sweat-extracting bus service has also led to a high demand for three wheelers and private cars, some car owners say.
Three wheelers on the other hand take people straight home, and also operate at night.
The high availability of three wheelers, and the lack of entry barriers (government licenses) had ensured competition keeping fares affordable, leading to wide use.
Three wheelers are also found in remote areas with lower passenger numbers, where regulated fares of the government has made it impossible for entrepreneurial members of the community to operate a bus, analysts say.
Due to government regulated pricing buses also do not operate at night.
In urban areas, there are also taxicab networks have been evolved by the market, where customers can call a cab, and the number of the cab and phone number is texted to the user, which is a market determined safety mechanism.
The three wheeler taxicab services have evolved because up to now, government regulations have not prevented their evolution, unlike public buses, analysts say.
Them move to control or ‘regulate’, comes as transport networks owned by the rulers rulers including railways, and public buses continue to eat up people’s tax money making losses and forcing food and other goods to be taxed to raise money. The government is also planning to tax healthcare.