Sri Lanka: Transportation – Field Note 6

The frequent use of trains for transportation of goods, giving priority in supplying fuel, charging of fees and travelling on the road for vehicles used to transport more than 8 passengers.

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Sri Lanka railway [Photo Credit: Nivantha Kasun Jayamanne]

This series is based on the excerpts of the first report of the Sub-Committee in identifying short and medium-term programmes related Economic Stabilization of the National Council tabled in the Parliament by Patali Champika Ranawaka as the Chair.  Composition of the Sub-Committee in identifying short and medium-term programmes related Economic Stabilization of the National Council,  Patali Champika Ranawaka (Chair), Naseer Ahamed, Tiran Alles, Sisira Jayakody, Sivanesathurai Santhirakanthan, Wajira Abeywardana, A. L. M. Athaullah, Rishad Bathiudeen, Palani Thigambaram, Mano Ganesan, M. Rameshwaran; all are members of the house representing various political parties – editors

Background

  • It was observed that numerous strategies of transportation have been used in various economic and political periods since the British era (before 1948).During the colonial period, it was decided upon the economic advantage and administrative requirements. In the welfare and import substitution economic era, (1956-77) the public transportation was made state owned whereas private vehicles were discouraged. However, private transportation was encouraged after liberal economic reforms and a massive investment was made on the roads used for private transportation after year 2005. And also, it was identified that the transport strategy should be changed in the existing surge of economic situation.
  • It was observed that a capital expenditure of 0.1-1.64% of the Gross National Production (GNP) on the development of roads, a percentage of 0.17-0.25% on promoting railways (the highest value of the GNP- 0.55% in year 2011-UthuruWasanthaya/Northern Spring) and a percentage of 0.1-0.11% (0.23% in year 2016-the highest value of the GNP) on enhancing the fleet of buses have been allocated during year 2005 to year 2019.
  • According to the statistics of the year 2018, an amount of US $ 5350 million (27% of the import expenditure) has incurred on vehicles, fuel and spare parts whereas another amount of US $ 700 million (3.5% of the import expenditure) has incurred in the same year on raw materials and equipment needed for development of roads.
  • As per the statistics of the year 2018, when 52% of the passengers choose public transportation, about 48% have used private transportation. Approximately 12% of the total fuel expenditure has incurred on fuel expenses for public transportation.
  • It was reported that about 15% – 18% of import expenditure incurred on vehicle imports and fuel consumption could be saved if 25% of the passengers changed their mode of transport into public transportation.
  • Although a comparative increase in railway passenger transportation was reported, a reduction of passengers who use public and private bus services and taxi services was notably reported by 20%-25%.

Proposals and Solutions

  • It is proposed to reduce fuel consumption as the first strategy.
  • It is important to utilize market equipment such as import taxes,price formula etc. in order to address the demand and to improve and encourage transport modes with high fuel efficiency and no fuel consumption. And also, it is necessary to introduce tactics of damage control and ways to minimize the use of low efficient fuel and equipment.
  • It is proposed to devise a quality public transportation as the second strategy.
  • It is necessary to introduce policies in which train, bus, taxi and van services are prioritized.
  • And also, it is recommended to build up a digitalized platform of public and private transport services (mobility as a service-mass). In order to do that, a new integrated programme should be arranged reviewing the platform which is currently used by institutions such as Uber, Pickme etc. and the proposed programme put forward by “Sahasara” initiative.
  • Digitalizing the transport facility by means of a unique digital card or mobile phone connected device for trains, buses, office and school vans, taxis and taxi facilitationservices (Uber, Pickme etc) for the convenience of the passengers.
  • Making Sri Lanka a “Transport and Services Hub” for smart industries and services (Industrial Revolution 4.0). Drafting laws, procurement processes and human resource development programmes pertaining to that and devising a proper integrated digitalization process of public and private transport services used for passenger transportation and lorries and trains used for freight.
  • The frequent use of trains for transportation of goods, giving priority in supplying fuel, charging of fees and travelling on the road for vehicles used to transport more than 8 passengers.
  • Removing weaknesses and bottlenecks identified in railway signal systems and railways within a year.
  • Making a proper investment on purchasing new low floor buses and railway locomotives and also, lifting out restrictions imposed on spare parts.
  • Introducing flexible time slots for government offices, private offices and schools following a proper pilot project.
  • Opening the expressways for Lorries, trucks and buses with a minimum charging fee (For transportation of goods and passenger transportation).

Source: Sri Lanka Parliament

Concluded

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