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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 23) - The tuktuk, a popular means of transport in many Asian countries, has arrived on Fiji shores.

The three-wheel vehicle, which can carry two passengers, is one of the most economical and cheapest forms of transportation and is used mostly as a taxi.

The tuktuk is a hit for its low-running costs and environmentally friendly image.

Local businessman Michael Thoms had the country's first tuktuk, a Thailand-built Monika LI 50 registered at the Land Transport Authority yesterday.

It is the first to be registered as a motor vehicle with the Land Transport Authority.

Mr. Thoms is now expecting to have about 10 more tuktuks brought in for distribution within a month.

They are expected to be sold at FJ$9,500 [US$5,900] each.

"It could pretty much be used by anyone, be it a farmer living in Navua wishing to travel to Sigatoka or someone wishing to go to the market," he said. "It's cheaper and much more economical to use."

The vehicle can use LPG and petrol and is relatively cost-effective given its small four- stroke engine.

The tuktuk has enough space for two passengers at the back and the driver in front.

It can reach a speed of up to 70 miles an hour.

Land Transport Authority manager Etuate Koroi believes the vehicles would be ideal for locals who require short distance travels.

"The lower the center of gravity, the better the vehicle should run," said Mr. Koroi.

Consumer Council of Fiji executive director Premila Kumar said the vehicles were a great idea in light of its cost effectiveness.

However, she said even the small size of the tuktuks would not help alleviate the country's burgeoning traffic problems and that it would only add to the overcrowding of vehicles.

The vehicle is very popular in many capital cities of South East Asia because it is easy to maneuver and handle in busy traffic.

People in the country will certainly take some time to get used to traveling on the vehicle because of its small size.

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