COLOMBO: Sri Lanka will adopt tougher vehicle emission standards early next year, the finance minister said Friday, a move that will effectively halt the import of tuk-tuks from neighbouring India.
From January, the South Asian country will follow the environmentally-friendly Euro 4 emissions standard as adopted by European nations, Mangala Samaraweera said.
The new norms will have a huge impact on the import of tuk tuks -- a favourite mode of transport in Sri Lanka, with 1.5 million already in the country.
Almost all come from India and are considered major polluters.
The government had said in October it planned to restrict imports of the ubiquitous three-wheel taxis in a bid to reduce road accidents and congestion.
The announcement also comes as Sri Lanka moves to phase out fossil fuel vehicles by 2040, replacing all state-owned vehicles with electric or hybrid models by 2025.
"We are moving towards environmentally-friendly vehicles and we will insist on the new standards for all new imports into the country from the new year," Samaraweera told reporters in Colombo.
He added that the government would slash import taxes on three-wheelers that are electric-powered to help owners replace the current gasoline fleet.
The government will also arrange cheap credit for electric taxis and buses.
Sri Lanka had around 6.8 million vehicles, most imported from Japan and India, on its roads at the end of 2016, including nearly 720,000 cars.
In the absence of public mass transit options, rickety three-wheelers are a popular transport option as well as a key source of employment for locals, with an increasing number of young men becoming tuk tuk drivers.