Transportation experts have questioned the sustainability and feasibility of the transport strategy formulated by the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, claiming that it would place high risk on the heavy irreversible investments.
Expressing concerns with regards to the transport proposals in the Megapolis plan, Senior Professor at the Department of Transport and Logistics Management of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Moratuwa, Prof. Amal S. Kumarage said that the main issue was in the size and the order of the investment.
According to the plan unveiled by the Ministry earlier this year, the main transport hub is to be built in Colombo Fort. In addition, new hubs are to be built along a number of entry points leading to Colombo. Further, the introduction of a new passenger transport bus service in Colombo has also been included in the plan in order to reduce traffic congestion prevalent in the city. According to Prof. Kumarage, a massive investment will be needed on rapid transit and elevated expressways, which would also take a considerable amount of time.
He added that the present economic situation would create a high risk for the public investment and whatever private investment the Government manages to get, thereby causing significant delays. He explained that the Government needed to go for a more incremental approach, ensuring that the existing modes of public transport are modernized, and that it meets the demand for the next few years until the long term, to alleviate the great risk in this strategy.
“The transport proposals of the Megapolis plan therefore need to be modified accordingly,” he remarked.
He pointed out that since there is uncertainty concerning the rate at which the Megapolis plan would unfold, quick result, low investment, and high yield options are what should be considered sans bias by the Government and the Megapolis officials. “Improving urban competitiveness in Colombo and other leading cities is important. There has been and there is a growing traffic problem due to Government’s unheeding professional advice,” he said.
In addition, he also pointed out the ministry officials had admitted that transport plans were yet to be completed and the recommendations were yet to be finalized. “I believe the Minister will intervene to correct this situation,” Prof. Kumarage pointed out.