Tuk drivers demand regulatory body, accuse Minister of buying time
A collective of three-wheeler driver associations have requested Transport Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera to establish a provincial-level regulatory authority for three-wheelers engaged in passenger transport services, the Ministry announced today.
In a meeting with the Minister yesterday, representatives of the associations recommended the introduction of a uniform to identify professional, full-time three-wheeler drives from other individuals driving three-wheelers and drivers working for ride-hailing companies.
A statement from the Transport Management Ministry said the associations also made a case for registering full-time professionals and for determining an age limit for driving a three-wheeler as a taxi.
However, All-Island Three-Wheeler Drivers Union Chairman Lalith Dharmasekara told RepublicNext that all the association wants from the Minister is to implement the recommendations mentioned in a technical report compiled during the previous government.
A majority of the associations representing three-wheel drivers, he said, have been struggling to regulate the profession for the past 20 years.
To date, transport Ministers of successive governments have failed to implement three extraordinary gazettes pertaining to regulations for three-wheelers, he said. Namely extra-ordinary gazette no 1821/31 of 2013, no 2001/2 of 2017 and no 2035/51 of 2017.
The previous cabinet appointed an eight-member technical committee to prepare a report with recommendations for regulating the three-wheel drivers’ profession in Sri Lanka, said Dharmasekara.
After the report was submitted to the cabinet, he said, the government never took steps to implement its recommendations.
Dharmasekara went on to say the incumbent minister is trying to talk about small issues such as uniforms and registration of three-wheel drivers, which he said already comes under the “proper recommended regulations which they are not talking about.”
Noting that the Minister has also asked from the associations to appoint four members to represent all of them in order to take the discussions further, Dharmasekara said this was simply to buy more time till the upcoming parliamentary elections as there would be conflicts among the associations to decide on the four members.
Dharmasekara added that no government really wants to regulate the three-wheelers as there are a considerable amount of people who benefit from its irregularity which includes politicians and businessmen.
Out of over 1.2 million three-wheelers registered in the country, about 800,000 three-wheelers are engaged in the profession and around three million family members live on that income.