November 22, 2017
10 June 2011 – A city taxi service using Tata Nano cars has started in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, but the firm cannot cope with demand for hires and is awaiting shipments from India to expand the fleet, an official said.
“We started with 25 cars and another shipment is expected in July,” co-founder of NanoCabs, Jayantha Dharmadasa told LBO.
“We hope to increase the fleet to 100 by the end of the year.”
Tata claims the car is the world’s cheapest car at around 3,000 US dollars, but in Sri Lanka the basic model costs around 925,000 rupees or 8,400 dollars.
In Sri Lanka ordinary people have to pay high taxes for cars, but state workers get tax slashed cars and rulers get completely tax free cars.
Dharmadasa said the Nano car costs about 1.2 million rupees or 10,900 dollars. The firm runs air conditioned cars fitted with taxi meters, a GPS tracking system and credit card readers, pushing the cost of the car to around 1.5 million rupees.
Dharmadasa said he and his brother-in-law, Anura Gunadasa founded the company as tourist arrivals picked up after the end of a 30-year war, and he expected more demand for cabs.
“The Colombo city is also being modernized so we thought it was time to start a modern safe cab service which was also economical,” he said.
But Dharmadasa says the firm can hardly cope with demand from local customers, with some corporate clients keeping the car the whole day.
The fare starts from 50 rupees a kilometre for the first five kilometres and falls. After 10 kilometres the price falls to a little over 30 rupees, Dharmadasa said.
Dharmadasa said the firm was hiring drivers and training them on making sure the clients are kept safe and treated courteously.
Thilanga Sumpathipala, a member of a local body representing the Borella district, where the cab service is based says the firm is providing jobs to both men and women in his area, lifting the gender barrier.
Taxi drivers are almost entirely male in Sri Lanka. The country’s most popular taxis are three wheelers also imported from India. There are also cab companies using cars or vans but not all of them have meters.