I have seen publicity about an international conference on clean and green energy and in this context my attention was drawn to a recent article in the Sunday Times headlined 'Too many cars can cause city paralysis' and another news report quoting the Power Minister, who is the keynote speaker of the conference asking to cut his monthly transport allowance by 10%.
The minister's comment though may not appear to be an explicit warning ofthe Tsunami type seems to be a visionary forewarning of not only the trend of escalating transport and energy costs aggravated by the growing vehicle registrations per capita, continuing to burden the foreign exchange reserves of the country but also the intensifying toxicity of commuting to work - that's latent in character and unbeknown - on urbanized employment, health, environment, and therefore on the clean and green energy concept, the theme of the conference.
A solution that is gaining ascendancy - though yet unfamiliar to many in Sri Lanka - is telecommuting over commuting to work. Telecommuting, as a means to reduce unneeded travel have been recommended in the Bangkok Declaration for Sustainable Transport Goals for 2010-2020 formulated by the 5th Regional EST (Environmentally Sustainable Transport) Forum in Asia Bangkok, Thailand on August 23-25, 2010 which was also attended by Sri Lanka. In this regard another article published in the Business Times of March 13, 2011 reported a massive Rs 32 billion loss due to traffic congestion.
But just as much as in previous instances telecommuting seems to be continue to be off the agenda in national events relating to GHG and this Conference Agenda seems to be no exception. This trend is demeaning the articles you have published as a mere rhetoric and continuing to escalate Sri Lanka's road congestion.
Viability of Telecommuting canons from the national greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions of which the transport sector ranks top-most in most countries and that in most nations including that of Sri Lanka nearly 50% of the work force is engaged in tasks involving processing information. Based on experiences of several of these nations to minimize GHG emissions, Sri Lanka too has the potential to harness telecommuting services to mitigate the adverse influence of urbanization avalanching peak hour passenger loads on the strained, creaky capacity of the transport sector by providing access to affordable and good quality broadband communications for the workforce to work at least for some days of the week/month or some hours of the day from home or at a location close to their homes.
Besides the direct benefits of telecommuting aiding to curb oil imports through improvement of the transport sector efficiency, such as reduced peak-hour passenger loads, oil consumption, vehicle and road wear and tear, commuting time, intensity of road accidents, loss due to congestion,etc, it also generates a range of indirect benefits.
Noteworthy among them are the significant enhancements in utilization of telecom and transport networks diurnal capacity of zero shelf value thereby improving significantly, affordability charges/fares of telecom and public transport services, reduction of vehicle-miles commuted for work and therefore the GHG emissions, mitigation of hazards of urbanization such a strain on scarce resources like water, parking and office building, housing space, etc that impacts on GHG, enhance/facilitate employment opportunities to the rural sector workforce and more importantlyimproving the productivity of the national workforce.