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Ports Minister Mangala Samaraweera Thursday revoked a ban imposed this week on three-wheeler taxis at Sri Lanka’s only international airport, arguing they were needed by the poor. Ports Minister Mangala Samaraweera Thursday revoked a ban imposed this week on three-wheeler taxis at Sri Lanka’s only international airport, arguing they were needed by the poor. Samaraweera said airport authorities had imposed the ban without his knowledge and he was overruling the decision because the rickety contraptions were a popular mode of transport.

“The three-wheelers are used by poor people of this country and we are not going to stop them,” Samaraweera said. “I can assure you that they will be allowed into the airport.”

The airport this week banned the highly-polluting but cheap vehicles, known locally as autorickshaws. It argued that they were charging less than one third of the regular US$ 15 taxi fare for a ride to the city.

More than 100 three-wheelers are sold on average a day, mostly the Indian-made Bajaj.

Some 150,000 autorickshaws ply the streets of Sri Lanka, providing a key source of self-employment. (AFP)

(US$ 1 = Rs. 103)