Sri Lanka to tighten controls on three wheel taxis, school vans

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s central government is to tighten controls on three wheeler taxis and schools vans operated by the community, despite it being a devolved subject under provincial councils.

The Minister of Transport Nimal Siripala de Silva, is to appoint National Technical Committee prepare technical standards for "preparing regulations and minimum standards for improving the quality of service" of three wheeler taxis and school vans, according to proposal approved by the cabinet of ministers.

Ironically the use of school vans and three wheelers have grown and evolved rapidly due to the bad service provided by the highly regulated public bus service, where innovation has been stifled and prices are regulated by the state and corruption in route licenses is routinely alleged.

Radio-taxi services have evolved which are operated through mobile phone and a central call centre and now though a mobile applications, which are easy to use.

Only two innovations had happened in the regulated transport sector, where then transport minister allowed air-conditioned services at double the price of a standard service and expressway buses, which have higher fares.

Analysts say the lack of regulations and entry barriers that lead to corruption (such as route licenses) imposed by force from rulers and bureaucrats, and free market prices had allowed the community through the market and price signals to build a transport system that full-filled their needs better.

The elected rulers egged on by the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, has called in parliament to control school van fares, which can prevent the entry of new school vans and land parents and students in further trouble.

The expert committee recognized that the subject is a part of the areas of authority of provincial councils, though the intervention and regulation is attempted from the centre.

Meanwhile the bureaucrats had also decided to encourage the ‘safe use of taxis’ presumably cars, instead of ‘unsafe’ three wheelers, the statement said.

Ironically in Sri Lanka three wheelers despite import taxes being raised in recent years, are cheaper than ‘safe’ cars, whose costs have been pushed up to prohibitive levels by extraordinarily high rates of taxes imposed by the rulers themselves.





Sri Lanka’s elected ruling class gets tax free cars and bureaucrats and doctors get tax slashed cars. (Colombo/Aug25/2017)

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