The Sunday Leader

Code Of Conduct Sought For Tuk-Tuk Drivers Following Allegations

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Lal Kalinga and Devananda Suraweera

A code of conduct has been sought for tuk-tuk drivers following allegations raised against them, the latest by the US Embassy in Colombo.

The US Embassy in Colombo last week said it has been made aware of an increase in incidents involving tuk-tuk drivers (three-wheel drivers) in the Colombo area inappropriately touching female passengers.

The US Embassy, in a statement, reminded all US Citizens to maintain situational awareness when in public and at home to avoid being a victim of crime.

However the All-Ceylon Three-wheel Driver’s Association rejected the allegations and said it will write to the US Embassy expressing its displeasure over the statement.

President of the Association Devananda Suraweera said that the actions of a small section of three-wheel drivers should not be used to tarnish the image of all three-wheel drivers.

He said that there are over 1.5 million three-wheelers operating in the country yet the government has done very little to upgrade the livelihood of these drivers.

R.P Kalinga, an advisor in public transport said that there needs to be a code of conduct for three-wheel drivers.

He said that over the years there had been a push for a code of conduct yet no government gave it serious consideration.

Kalinga said that by branding three-wheel drivers as a whole as being unsafe affects the families of those drivers.

The US Embassy, in its advise to US citizens last week had said that females should avoid traveling in tuk-tuks alone in Colombo.

“If you have to travel alone (especially at night) use a company that tracks your ride rather than tuk-tuks and make sure family members or friends know your travel plans. Take pictures of the tuk driver and vehicle license plate prior to getting inside. Many of the reported incidents occurred at the end of the ride – be extra vigilant during this time and try to limit time alone inside the tuk,” the US Embassy warned.

The Embassy also urged women to place physical barriers (bags, etc) between yourself and the driver and not to be afraid to use force if needed be it making a noise, being assertive, and striking back in self defence.

“Doing so will not only draw attention to the scene, but can also startle the attacker,” the Embassy said.

The Embassy also urged female passengers to pay attention to their surroundings and know the location in case they need to call for assistance

“Do not make yourself a target for criminals – flashing expensive jewellery or large amounts of cash can make you a target. Lock your doors, including when you are at home. Carry your cell phone and ensure it is charged or carry a back-up charger. Have emergency numbers saved on your contacts,” the Embassy added.

“We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens living or traveling in Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency,” the US Embassy in Colombo said.

The three-wheel passenger service began in Sri Lanka around 1979 and in 2002 a trade union was formed to fight for the rights of the drivers.Several complaints later arose of drivers charging higher than normal rates from passengers and as a result meters were introduced for three-wheelers.

In the recent past mobile applications were introduced to book a three-wheel taxi which also gives the information of the driver.

Kalinga said that some private companies display the picture of the driver on the three-wheeler and a contact number in case of an emergency. He said that it order to give some respect to the three-wheel drivers some companies introduced uniforms.

Kalinga said that most private companies will not hesitate to suspend a driver if there is a complaint against him.

He also noted that three-wheel drivers must be seen as an asset to the country as they had assisted the government in times of need, including during the war.


1 Comment for “Code Of Conduct Sought For Tuk-Tuk Drivers Following Allegations”

  1. Suzy Wong

    This stupid government should at least take off three wheelers from Western Province as Planned by Me Gotabaya.

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