Three-wheeler drivers oppose fuel prices hike
Passenger charges hiked by Rs. 5 per km after first km
By Dinitha Rathnayake
Several three-wheeler associations raised concerns over the recent fuel prices hike where some have made different demands from the Government other than increasing three-wheeler charges, The Morning learnt.
Speaking to The Morning, All-Island Three-Wheeler Drivers’ Union Chairman Lalith Dharmasekara said that the Government had indirectly punished the low-income earners by increasing the fuel prices.
“Half of the three-wheeler drivers and 15% of bike users consume petrol on a daily basis. Most of them are low-income earners. The total daily petrol consumption is estimated at 6,000 metric tonnes (MT) whereas diesel consumption is around 5,000 MT. Super petrol consumption is only around 100 MT”.
According to Dharmasekara, there is a huge gap between the low-income and high-income earners which reflects in the consumption of petrol.
However, he added that their association is not ready to burden their consumers by increasing three-wheeler charges.
“There is a huge difference between three-wheelers running for hire and the ones that are not. We need to regulate them. This is what we ask from the Government. Three-wheelers that run for hire should have a metre,” he added.
A majority of the associations representing three-wheeler drivers have been struggling to regulate the profession for the past 20 years, but have not succeeded, he explained.
“There are big companies who run this three-wheeler business according to their rules. There are no regulations even for the prices. We thought that the current Government would take steps to prevent such a situation. But we were wrong,” he further added.
Meanwhile, All-Island Three-Wheeler Drivers and Owners’ Association Chairman Sudil Jayaruk said that they have agreed on a Rs. 5 increase on three-wheeler charges. The charge for the first kilometre remains unchanged (Rs. 50). However, from the second kilometre onwards, the charge would be Rs. 55 per kilometre, an increment of Rs. 5.
“For the past 10 years, our charges were the same; we didn’t want to increase. But this time, it’s difficult to keep to that decision. It’s not only about the fuel price, but spare parts prices have also gone up by 80% due to taxes. How can we afford this?” he questioned.
According to Jayaruk, they have requested the Government to have a proper regulation system for three-wheelers.
“With the help of the National Transport Commission, we were able to submit a Cabinet paper to have a price formula where the passengers shouldn’t be worried about the price they have to pay. Some of the drivers charge a huge amount from the passengers. But this was rejected. Drivers should also be registered under a regulatory institute since there is no one to take responsibility for three-wheeler drivers. About 800,000 three-wheelers are engaged in the profession and around three million family members live on that income.”