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Colombo. Sri Lanka, facing a severe energy crisis amid financial meltdown, is preparing to convert 5 lakh ‘tuk-tuks’ (autorickshaws) into electric vehicles (EVs) within the next five years. Supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Transport and Highways and the Ministry of Power and Energy, together with the Department of Motor Transport and the National Transport Commission, have launched this project.
Significantly, about 1.2 million tuk-tuks in Sri Lanka are mainly imported from India. However, three-wheeler imports from India have come down to almost zero after the government’s decision to ban the import of vehicles in 2022 due to dollar shortage.
Nearly 5 lakh tuk-tuk drivers became jobless last year, unable to buy the necessary fuel.
Launching the project on Thursday, UNDP said, with the prevailing socio-economic crisis in the island, a shift towards adopting a sustainable mobility approach has been identified as a necessity for a green recovery process.
The aim of the project is to convert petrol three wheelers into electric three wheelers.
The proposed three-phased project comprises an incubation phase, a demonstration phase and an acceleration phase. The incubation phase will test the conversion process. The Demonstration Phase will support the transformation and the Acceleration Phase will harness market forces for transformation through concessional financing and infrastructure development.
Highlighting UNDP’s role in the pilot project, Azusa Kubota, UNDP Representative in Sri Lanka, said the pilot project is a part of UNDP’s green development portfolio, which is being developed. The portfolio aims to support Sri Lanka’s development by creating solutions to catalyze low carbon, green and inclusive growth, within which sustainable transport and e-mobility play a key role.
The incubation phase will help convert 200 petrol three wheelers into electric three wheelers.
For the incubation phase, several criteria have been introduced for the selection vehicles and owners. These criteria include, the age of the tuk-tuk should not exceed 10 years from the date of manufacture. Only petrol 4-stroke three wheelers are eligible. Preference will be given to applicants whose livelihood is dependent on a three wheeler, and preferential selection is to be given to women owners, operators and persons with disabilities.
Transport and Highways Minister Bandula Gunawdarna said, electric three-wheelers will not only benefit individual operators, but also contribute to the country’s economic recovery process.
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