Breathing space for threewheel taxi fare meters
Three-wheeler operators will have time until the end of December to comply with rules to install fare meters under the Motor Traffic regulations.
And once again, as on previous occasions, there are disputes over the meters, affordability, receipts and standards.
The deputy minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Ashok Abeysinghe, told the Sunday Times that it had been unanimously decided by officials that more time was needed to instal meters that meet Sri Lanka Standards Institution requirements.
Operators who already use fare meters will have to install new ones.
Three- wheeler taxi fare meter and receipt regulations were gazetted first in January this year.
“We will be introducing an instalment payment system. However, it is mandatory for the passenger transporting three-wheelers to fix a meter,’’ Mr Abeysinghe said
Chairman of the National Council for Road Safety, Sisira Kodagoda, said objections from three-wheeler associations have been considered.
Meanwhile, three- wheeler drivers also say the recent regulations specify offences and not the penalties.
“Discussions will be held on Monday with eight companies that are expected to market the standard meters. We will be discussing concessionary terms for providing three-wheelers with meters,’’ he said.
He also revealed that the National Council for Road Safety will soon be turned into a commission. This will provide them with more powers to act as a regulatory body.
“Cabinet papers have been prepared it has to only be presented to the Parliament to be approved. Although a proper date has not been finalised, we expect it to be anytime soon,’’ he said.
President of the All Island Three-Wheel Drivers Union, Lalith Dharmasekara, said that he agrees and disagrees at the same time about implementing the revised regulations.
“I have been pressurising many governments before to implement the three-wheel regulations in the Motor Traffic Act, which led me to the Court of Appeal in 2015 to implement the gazette notice. However, it has been delayed for far too long. I believe that they have to implement the regulations,’’ he said.
But he also questioned the practicality of standard meters.
Mr Dharmasekara pointed out that the gazette has stated the offences, but not the punishments.
The chairman of the All Island Three Wheeler Drivers’ and Owners’ Association Sudil Jayaruk, said the group agrees to installing fare meters. But, he said, there has to be a regulatory body to monitor the regulations and the profession.
“Everybody is driving a three- wheeler today. Drivers are lured to selling drugs, engage in underworld activities and prostitution. The blame falls on all three-wheel drivers,’’ he said.
Mr. Jayaruk suggests drivers be trained to follow civil laws, road rules, and customer service.
“An institution is important to decide on a standard price system, and a place where people can complain regarding difficulties faced by passengers. These will create a sense of professionalism and provide safety at the same time,’’ he said.
Still, he questions the practicality of providing a receipt to the passenger at the destination. This may not be possible during an emergency.
There are also issues related to registering the three- wheeler in a police station. Mr. Kodagoda said although orders have been given to the provincial councils, there had been issues with regard to implementation.
Po l i c e m e d i a s p o ke s p e r s o n , Superintendent of Police, Ruwan Gunasekara, conceded that the gazette notice has only mentioned the offences and not the punishments.
But, he clarified, that according to section 224 of the Motor Traffic Act if there are no punishments for an offence, then a case will be filed. The offender will be produced before a Magistrates’ Court.
Three-wheeler drivers say the recent regulations specify offences and not the penalties. Pic by Priyantha Wickramaarachchi