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London gets Indian autorickshaws

Written by: Staff
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London, July 7 (UNI) Brighton, a popular sea resort of Britain, has got 12 three-wheelers from an Indian company Bajaj.

These have been nicknamed ''tuk-tuks'' and would be carrying people for a flat fare of 2.50 pound for adults and 1.50 pound for children.

The resort plans to introduce them in Central London next year, where the non-motorised rickshaws are now allowed to ply after 1900 hrs. Most of these rickshaws at 10 round an hour are plied by students who earn extra money through working four to five hours in the evening.

The tuk-tuks in Brighton, imported by 26-year-old Dominic Ponniah have been painted in various colours, one with a Union Jack painted on its front and have additional safety features-- roll bars, side-impact protection, seat belts, a plastic curtain to prevent rain or cold wind hitting passengers and a maximum speed of 35 mph.

Its drivers have licence to drive cars, and receive four days training in driving and repairing tuk-tuks. The ride could be shared by three people.

There are many other changes to satisfy the requirements of the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency. No portraits of gods or of drivers' family members have been allowed.

The tuk-tuks run on compressed natural gas, thereby minismising noise levels and emissions of air pollutants.

Steve Webb, owner of the Tukshop in Southampton, told the Times that no one would wish a tuk-tuk to collide with a Range Rover but feeling a bit unprotected adds to the thrill.

''Riding in a tuk-tuk always puts a smile on people's faces, especially if it reminds them of an Asian holiday, he said.

There is fear that taxi drivers would be hit by tuk-tuk.

Ponniah has plans to ply them in Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and cross the northern border to take them to Edinburgh.

UNI XC SK VA PC0948

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