Traffic congestion, in the Colombo city, cost around one billion rupees a day, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka told Parliament, yesterday.
Participating in third reading of the budget debate under the expenditure heads of the Ministries of Transport and Civil Aviation and Ports and Shipping, the Minister said that the loss incurred due to the traffic congestion in terms of waste of fuel and time had been estimated by the Moratuwa University to be around Rs. 1,000 million a day.
“This is far greater than what is spent on capital expenditure. There are over seven million motor vehicles plying our streets today which have caused this traffic congestion.”
Minister Ranawaka said that during the 1970s and 1990s around 80% of the population used public transport and the SLTB service was in a very efficient state. “However, now the situation has changed completely. With the per capita income exceeding USD 3,000 and the country getting into the low middle income category, the import of private vehicles has increased rapidly, causing the current traffic congestion.”
“What is the solution? From 2004 we have spent a colossal amounts of funds on building highways, carpeting roads and other measures to improve the transport and road networks. From 2005 to 2015 of the capital expenditure, 42% was spent on developing the transport sector. In this budget, around 30% has been allocated for the development of the road network. However, while the government has spent trillions of rupees on road development, the problem of congestion persists.