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Prevalence of beggars in Colombo leads to cancellation of SMMT International Automotive Summit 2025 bid

April 30, Colombo (LNW): In the wake of the prevalence of beggars at traffic lights in Colombo city, the annual SMMT International Automotive Summit 2025 will not be hosted, Secretary of the Sri Lanka Automobile Association Devapriya Hettiarachchi disclosed.

Speaking to media, Hettiarachchi noted that Sri Lanka had previously hosted the Asia Pacific Region II meeting affiliated with the SMMT International Automotive Summit conference in Colombo in 2015, with 150 delegates in attendance.

Subsequently, a bid was submitted in Rwanda to host the SMMT International Automotive Summit conference in 2025.

“During the meeting in Rwanda, delegates observed beggars soliciting at traffic lights within Colombo city limits, resulting in unpleasant experiences and significant traffic disruptions as they traversed various locations in Colombo,” Hettiarachchi remarked.

Securing the bid would have brought numerous delegates from various countries to Sri Lanka, thereby generating substantial foreign income for the nation.

However, feedback received during the annual General meeting in Rwanda indicated that hosting the conference in Sri Lanka was untenable due to the beggar menace at traffic lights in Colombo.

Concerns were also raised that providing aid to beggars within the city limits would adversely impact the country’s reputation.

Consequently, attendees urged Sri Lanka to address this issue in Colombo if it intends to host the prestigious automotive industry gathering in 2025.

In response, plans were formulated in April 2023, and a strategic committee was established to address the situation.

Ultimately, measures were implemented to mitigate the issue, with the public urged not to provide assistance to beggars at traffic lights within Colombo city limits.

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