Battle against burgeoning volume of city traffic JICA role in transport master plan for Colombo city

Published : 10:32 am  March 6, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Shihara Maduwage

To combat Sri Lanka’s long-standing and worsening battle with traffic in Colombo city, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), together with Sri Lankan experts including Prof. Amal Kumarage of the Department of Transport and Logistics at Moratuwa University, have come up with a long-term Urban Transport Master Plan for the city’s metropolitan region and its suburbs.

In its analysis, JICA has identified low level of public transport, insufficient road network and increased number of vehicles as the main causes for rising traffic congestion in the city of Colombo.

Meanwhile, due to the population increase and increase if expected real household income, traffic demand made by private modes of transport is anticipated to grow at a rapid rate and more than double by year 2035.


Toru Kobayakawa, the Director of South Asia Division 3 of JICA, explained the details of the Urban Transport Master Plan.

He said that the main components of Urban Transport Development Plan is to improve and develop the public transport system and develop road network which are to be completed in three phases.
The short-term development plan for public transport to be completed by 2020 includes the Monorail network which would connect the northern area of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) and Fort area to provide a smooth passenger movement within the central area of CMC.

To supplement the Monorail network and the railway network, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), is proposed to be installed in the Galle Road Corridor, Baseline Road and its extension and Kandy Road where there is sufficient road width and potential public transport passenger demands. In addition, a Bus Priority System will be introduced and connected with the BRT network, Monorail Network and the Railway system in Horana and Negombo Corridor where it is difficult to install a BRT. Furthermore, a Multimodal Transport Hub at Pettah and Fort will be constructed to ensure smooth transfers among various transport systems.


During the intermediate phase which is to be completed by 2025, the current railway system will be modernized and extended. Furthermore, a BRT system will be installed connecting Rathmalana, Battaramulla and Wattala to provide public transport between these areas directly and not via the centre of Colombo.


In the long-term plan, which is to be completed by 2035, the Monorail will be installed on the High Level road.
Mr. Kobayakawa explained that alongside of developing the public transport system, road development plan too will be implemented during the short, intermediate and long-term phases. During the short-term, an elevated road will be constructed connected to Cololmbo- Katunayake Expressway via new Kelani Bridge to Colombo Port to prevent container trailers running on ground level roads.
The ongoing projects including the Marine Drive extension will be completed to alleviate traffic congestion, especially at peak hours. Furthermore the plan includes improving the efficiency of traffic signals as well as improvements to the walking environment for pedestrians to reduce accidents.
The intermediate road development plan includes constructing new major roads towards CMC parallel to the Malabe Corridor, High Level road and Low Level road. The Marine Drive extension would be completed and Base Line Road too will be extended to Rathmalana. The plan also proposes an Electronic Road Pricing system for the heavily congested areas.


In the long-term plan, continuous efforts will be made to develop accessibility of road to railway stations as well as to improve disaster prevention and basic infrastructure to form a good urban environment.  The total cost for the 20 year period of 2015 – 2035 is estimated to be Rs. 2,780 billion.  In addition the plan also suggests the establishment of an urban Transport Council under the President representing all main political decision-makers in urban transport, including the Western Provincial Council with ministers and deputy ministers from the national government and the chief minister from the WPC.  However, Mr. Kobayakawa added that the government has not yet taken a decision whether to implement the proposed master plan.