The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help Sri Lanka prepare studies and designs for new road, railway, and port projects so the country’s transport system is well-placed to support economic growth in the medium term.
“In Sri Lanka, the role of the transport sector has gradually changed from moving agricultural commodities to providing more diversified services and catering to the value-added manufacturing industry,” said Chen Chen, Senior Transport Specialist in ADB’s South Asia Department. “The transport network needs to better serve the towns and cities where new economic activities are being established.”
Roads and an emerging expressway network are the dominant mode of transportation in Sri Lanka, accounting for 93% of passenger transport and 96% of freight transport. The country also has a basic railway network with 10 railway lines although almost 90% of the network is single track. An improved railway transport system would complement the road transport system, both for passengers and freight.
Finally, maritime transport is also critical to Sri Lanka as an island nation. Total container volume handled by Sri Lanka’s ports has increased 108% from 2.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2005 to 5.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2015. The government needs to make the optimal use of the maritime transport resources in Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kankasanthurai, Oluvil, and Trincomalee.
With $24.42 million in ADB technical assistance, the Road Development Authority will formulate an expressway development program and prepare priority projects, such as a port access road to link the Colombo port area to the highway network. The funds will also help the government to work on studies and designs for priority railway and port projects. The studies are expected to commence this 2016 and be completed by 2022.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members-48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Friday that Sri Lanka’s government, which has failed to raise taxes as promised when it received a $1.5 billion loan from the lender in June, needs to implement a tax reform package without delay. (Reuters)