By Cheranka Mendis
Sri Lanka’s first-ever Nano taxi service was launched yesterday, two weeks after the cab was introduced to the local market, by Nano Cabs Pvt. Ltd., a company co-founded by Jayantha Dharmadasa and his brother Anura Gunadasa.
The cab service, which is ready to hit the roads with a fleet of 24 Nano Cabs initially, is already looking at including more under its name, confident that the taxi service will hit it off with the local customers immediately.
Plans are now underway to buy all yellow cabs that will be brought in by Dimo over the next few months to make up a fleet of 200 vehicles by the end of the year. The cab service is aimed at shifting the paradigm of transport in Sri Lanka to a whole new level and guarantees safe travel and a reasonable fare for consumers.
Director of Nano Cabs Anusha Dharmadasa told the Daily FT yesterday that the company was looking at buying the yellow cabs as and when Dimo receives new shipments, to expand the service offered.
“Dimo launched the Nano cabs few weeks ago and brought in 24 yellow cabs. We have purchased all of them. We are planning to increase the fleet level up to 200 within the year and therefore will be looking at buying all other shipments that come in from this segment of cars,” Dharmadasa said.
“We are keen on expanding, but we are also giving attention to training the staff. We want to train the drivers properly and do not want to release untrained drivers; therefore we are looking at expanding but at a slower pace,” she said.
The Tata Nano, which is said to be India’s cheapest car, is sold in Sri Lanka at three times more than the original price due to taxation issues, as reported in local and international media. It has been purchased at Rs. 1.1 million. Dharmadasa also said that Rs. 200,000 had been spent on each car to improve the conditions with the fixing of tax meters, satellite vehicle tracking system, etc.
“There is a need for safe and secure transportation in Sri Lanka, which triggered the need for such a cab service. There is also a vacuum in the local job market and we hope to create more opportunities for the locals along the way,” she added.
For the 24 cars that will run on Colombo streets, 24 drivers have been employed, among whom are two female drivers. “We wanted to create a sense of security for women and children travelling alone. We hope to increase the number of female drivers with the increasing fleet. We are confident that this aspect would be greatly welcomed by the community,” Dharmadasa asserted.
Key features of Nano Cabs include the economic benefits with a meter fixed on every cab and a receipt or bill indicating the vehicle number and comfort as the vehicle is air-conditioned. The cab can comfortably hold up to four passengers safety with its passenger seatbelts, first aid kit, front power shutters and emergency panic button, etc.
Payment through credit cards is also available. There will also be an accident benefit cover of Rs. 250,000 per passenger. There is a vehicle tracking system through which the location of any particular vehicle can be traced with a GPS system for navigational purposes.
The fare starts at Rs. 50 per kilometre for the first five kilometres after which it falls to Rs. 30 per kilometre. Such low fares qualify the service as the lowest cost cabs in Asia, MP Thilanga Sumathipala said at the launch.
Nano Cabs can be contacted on 2676767.