The transportation master plan for Colombo includes strategic route planning, road and traffic planning, pedestrian path planning, road safety and integrated multi model transportation with real time information system, the government’s top transport official said.
“Our obligation is to ensure that all those who use our transport services are able to do so safely and efficiently,” noted Dhammika Perera, Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and a powerful and influential businessman himself, told a luncheon meeting of the Council for Business with Britain (CBB) affiliated to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), held recently.
Excerpts of his speech were released to the media by the CCC. Speaking on the topic “Colombo Metropolitan Transport Strategy’, he said that when the President appointed him as the Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, he together with the Minister of Transport gave (him) a clear mandate – the development of a transportation master plan for the next 30 years that will progressively see the transportation system evolve on par with an advancing GDP, and per capita income. Currently the transport sector share of GDP is about 11.5%.
He said the Ministry of Transport was founded to develop a land transport system at minimum operational cost, and to re-build an efficient and cost effective transportation system which will enhance our economic competitiveness whilst also delivering an improved quality of life to the people.
“Driven by the vision of the Mahinda Chinthana, we look to utilize modern technology and to continuously improve human resources and infrastructure facilities, so as to enhance road, and rail transport systems in the country, assisting accelerated economic development,” he added.
Whilst it took nearly 50 years for Sri Lanka’s per capita income to reach US$1,000 mark, the next $1,000 was achieved in a short span of five years in 2009 under the able direction of the President, he said.
The Government has estimated that per capita income would be doubled to $4,000 by 2016. With the rapid increase in per capita income products and services which were previously classified as ‘luxury’ will no longer be treated that way. For example when mobile phones and services first entered Sri Lanka, it was a luxury and was considered expensive.
However partly because of lower prices and higher demand as well as increasing disposable income, mobile phones are now treated as a basic requirement.
This context can, likewise, be applied to the transportation sector. Air conditioned buses and trains which, may be classified as luxury today will be a commonly used mode of transport in the next few years as people’s income levels increase, he noted.