US warns of abusive three-wheel drivers in Colombo

The US Embassy in Colombo says it has been made aware of an increase in incidents involving tuk-tuk drivers (three-wheel drivers) in the Colombo area inappropriately touching female passengers.

The US Embassy, in a statement, reminded all US Citizens to maintain situational awareness when in public and at home to avoid being a victim of crime.

US Citizens were urged to consider the following security tips:

  • Females should avoid traveling in tuk-tuks alone in Colombo.
  • If you have to travel alone (especially at night) use a company that tracks your ride rather than Tuk-tuks and make sure family members or friends know your travel plans.
  • Take pictures of the Tuk driver and vehicle license plate prior to getting inside.
  • Many of the reported incidents occurred at the end of the ride – be extra vigilant during this time and try to limit time alone inside the Tuk.
  • Place physical barriers (bags, etc) between yourself and the driver.
  • Do not be afraid to use force if needed – make noise, be assertive, and strike back to defend yourself. Doing so will not only draw attention to the scene, but can also startle the attacker
  • Pay attention to your surroundings, and know your location in case you have to call for assistance
  • Do not make yourself a target for criminals – flashing expensive jewelry or large amounts of cash can make you a target
  • Lock your doors, including when you are at home
  • Carry your cell phone and ensure it is charged or carry a back-up charger. Have emergency numbers saved on your contacts list

“We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens living or traveling in Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency,” the US Embassy in Colombo said.

The Consular Section of the US Embassy in Colombo is located at 210 Galle Road.  The telephone number is +94 11 249-8500.  US citizens with an after-hours emergency have been advised to call hotline:  077-725-6307.  If the duty officer on this number cannot be reached, a US citizen can dial 011-249-8500.  The fax number is +94 11 249-8501. (Colombo Gazette)