Promising developments in transportation sector

Thursday, 28 July 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Following is the address delivered by Ministry of Transport Secretary Dhammika Perera at the International Conference on Advances in Highway Engineering and Transportation Systems held on 26 July at the Cinnamon Grand:

Honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to address all of you this morning in my capacity as the Secretary to the Ministry of Transport.

The mission of the Ministry of Transport is to develop a land based transport system at minimum operational cost. Our onus is to rebuild an efficient and cost effective transportation system which will enhance our economic competitiveness together with an improved quality of life for the nation’s people.

Driven by the vision of the ‘Mahinda Chinthana,’ we look to utilise 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.

Whilst it took nearly 50 years for Sri Lanka’s per capita income to reach the US$ 1,000 mark, the next $ 1,000 was achieved in a short span of five years in 2009 under the able direction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Government has estimated that per capita income would be doubled to US$ 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.

In creating an enabling environment for speedier economic growth, the Government aims to fast-track infrastructure investment over the next decade, especially with a view to overcome the dearth of investment during the last three decades.

Our obligation is to ensure that all those who use our transport services are able to do so safely and efficiently.

Our national transportation system aims to be an integrated, intermodal national transportation system that can economically move anyone and anything, anywhere, anytime, on time, a transportation system without fatalities and injuries; and a system that is compatible with the environment.

The safety, security, efficiency, and reliability of our country’s passenger transportation system and infrastructure will be world-class. We will waste less time and fuel while stalled in traffic jams and due to bus/train delays. There will be less transportation-generated pollution and noise in our communities. We will have increasing access to high quality, public transportation during peak travel periods.

Our vehicles will accommodate alternative fuels and new energy-saving technologies. Our transportation system will minimise greenhouse gas emissions and be prepared for the impacts of climate change.

Recent developments in the transportation sector have indicated promise. For the first time in 40 years a train load of containers entered the port last week and this will enter into the history books as a ground breaking initiative carried out by the Ministry of Transport with the assistance of Sri Lanka Railways. The use of rail ensures secure, efficient, and reliable movement of freight and will bolster the nation’s economy while improving environmental quality.

I look forward to working with you to deliver a transportation system that frees all of us to make daily decisions, confident that people and goods will reach their destinations safely, without worrying about how they will get there or if they can make it on time.

Thank you very much.