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Choons’ banned in three wheel crackdown

The government’s latest move to safeguard tuk-tuk passengers and other road users include the banning of musical tunes played by bakery product vendors on three-wheelers better known as "choon paan."

New regulations gazetted by Transport minister Nimal Siripala de Silva include a slew of measure to impose minimum safety standards of the million plus three-wheeler fleet in the country and reduce road fatalities.

Official figures show that about 15 percent of traffic deaths involved three-wheel passengers and their drivers while the ubiquitous motorised trishaw has been identified as a leading cause of accidents for others.

Another 100,000 people are seriously wounded in traffic accidents each year in Sri Lanka. Last month, the government announced raising the minimum traffic fines from about 500 rupees to 25,000 rupees in a bid to improve road safety.

Apart from the road safety concerns, there had been widespread complaints about choon paan vendors waking up neighbourhoods early in the morning to sell their wares and causing disturbance.

"The driver of a motor tricycle which is in motion or parking shall not use or shall not cause to use any instrument or equipment emanating sound so as to disturb or annoy other road users," according to one of the new regulations.

Offenders could be fined up to 2,500 rupees. Under the new move, loud music is also banned and any music should be "confined within the motor tricycle and intended for the hearing only of the occupants therein."

After decades of dragging their feet, the authorities have imposed some basic minimum requirements for trishaw such as head lights, tail lights, electrically-operated windshield wipers and a speedometer that can be seen by the driver.

It is also mandatory to have two cabin lights in a three wheeler, one in the passenger area and the other at the driver’s compartment. Until recently, not a single Indian-made three-wheeler had any cabin lights.

In future, trishaws cannot be used for political propaganda work as the new regulation bans the distribution of leaflets or any other material from a three-wheeler while it is moving.

Tuk-tuks which are used for hiring are required to have a fare meter and must issue receipts.