Nov 09, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Minister of Finance, Mangala Samaraweera, says, with the help of the Millennium Challenge Corporation funds, improvements in the transport sector alone could save the national economy Rs. 1.8 trillion in a year.
According to a recent survey by the University of Moratuwa, the country's economy is losing a huge sum of Rs 1.8 trillion annually due to traffic congestion. Accordingly, it is important to improve the transport sector so that the country can save the large sum of money that is estimated to be lost, the Minister pointed out at a recent press conference.
Accordingly, the Government is prepared to utilize the grants from the Millennium Development Fund to improve the transport system of the country and this program is carried out with the mediation of the Government and Government officials of Sri Lanka.
He said the traffic congestion is so bad in Colombo and suburbs it takes an hour to travel only eight kilometers and by 2035 it will be only one kilometer per hour.
Accordingly, the Government is prepared to utilize the grants from the Millennium Development Fund to establish a traffic management system to improve the transport network and this program is carried out with the mediation of the Government and Government officials of Sri Lanka.
It is expected to upgrade the country's transportation system in three parts with the help of the MCC development fund.
The Transport Project is budgeted at $350 million and aims to improve urban and rural mobility in the Western, Central, Sabaragamuwa, and Uva Provinces in two ways.
First, it will ease traffic congestion and improve public transportation in the Colombo Metropolitan Region making Colombo a more livable, well-functioning city. Second, the Transport Project will improve connectivity between the central part of the country and ports and markets in the Western Province. The Transport Project will upgrade transport infrastructure and systems and has three activities.
Out of the total $ 160 million has been allocated for an Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) for the Colombo Metropolitan Region. ATMS combines physical improvements and civil works with technology enhancements to optimize the efficiency of the existing road networks along eight heavily traveled corridors that link central Colombo with its suburbs. The activity will also introduce modern technologies for vehicle detection, real-time data collection and analysis of traffic flows; an interconnected traffic signal system; and dedicated bus priority systems throughout the network.
ATMS involves civil works improvements to 132 junctions in greater Colombo and a traffic management center where implementation of effective traffic control strategies are coordinated along approximately 205 kilometers of existing road networks.
The $50 million bus service modernization activity would improve bus services in greater Colombo. Bus service accounts for 45 percent of all passenger miles traveled in greater Colombo and disproportionately serves low-income individuals. The activity will introduce automated fare collection systems based on smart cards; create single schedules for multiple bus operators running on a given route; introduce GPS bus tracking to enable transit operators to know buses’ locations and determine if they are operating according to schedule; and improve safety and accessibility for women, the elderly, disabled and other vulnerable groups.
MCC support will also help the Sri Lanka Transport Board and private bus operators develop sustainable financing arrangements for purchasing new state-of-the-art buses.
The $140 million rural transport activity would upgrade approximately 131 kilometers of interprovincial roads in the Central Ring Road Network connecting the Central, Sabaragamuwa, and Uva Provinces with ports and markets in the Western Province.
MCC fund will rehabilitate various segments of the network. Passengers and goods from the Eastern Province also travel through this network. Improvements to this network would net several benefits as the central region is a center of the agriculture and tourism industries, is one of the most ethnically diverse, and has large concentrations of poor.