Sri Lanka tuk-tuk drivers refuse to reduce fares despite drop in petrol price


ECONOMYNEXT – Threewheeler taxi fares in Sri Lanka will not be reduced despite a drop in petrol prices, a threewheeler union said, blaming what they called an unfairly low allocation of fuel through a QR code-based quota system.

President of the All-Island Three-Wheeler Drivers’ Union Lalith Dharmasekera told EconomyNext on Monday October 03 that they’re not in a position to reduce fares at present.

On October 01, the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) reduced the price of petrol 92 will 40 rupees per liter and 95 by 30 rupees a litre.

“It’s not unreasonable that the public wants to know if there will be a tuk-tuk fare revision after petrol prices dropped; but we can’t reduce our rates because fuel supply to threewheelers is restricted,” he said.

Since July, Sri Lanka has been restricting fuel supply as a consequence of the island nation’s worst currency crisis in decades. A QR code based quota system was introduced to streamline the supply process and reduce the mile-long queues that were seen at filling stations around the country. However, threewheler drivers have been complaining that they’re only allowed five litres of petrol a week.

“We run hires and we have a family to back home to feed. So added to our quota we have obligations to meet for our families and five litres is not doing us any good. It’s simply not enough,” said Dharmasekara.

In September, Power & Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera announced an increase in the quota issued to full-time threewheeler drivers, requiring them to register themselves at their local police station.

“We are depressed and disappointed about the fuel situation in the country,” said Dharmasekera, adding that a majority of threewheeler drivers who run taxi hires by scanning the QR code multiple times and other “illegal” means of acquiring fuel. Often they resort to bribing filling station workers for more fuel.

Threewheeler drivers have been complaining of the meagre fuel quota, lamenting its inadequacy to run hires.

“Raise the quota and we will put down our prices. If our supply is unchanged, then so are the prices we charge,” said one driver.

Several tuk drivers charge various prices due to the fuel crisis and use different meters such as the inbuilt meter, phone meter and even rough estimates to calculate the fare.

Meanwhile, tuk commuters also complain of a lack of regulation in the industry and unfair pricing. (Colombo/Oct03/2022)

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