Sri Lanka mulls road user charges to combat congestion

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lankan policymakers are considering a proposal to introduce road user charges to cope with worsening traffic jams in the Colombo Metropolitan Region (CMR), an official said.

The proposal is among the reforms suggested by transport experts to the government under a strategic plan for transport management in the CMR, said Amal Kumarage.

Vehicle imports were continuing and congestion worsening despite Sri Lanka having very high vehicle import taxes, said Kumarage, Senior Professor of the Moratuwa University’s Department of Transport & Logistics Management.

“We have to shift tax collection from vehicle imports to travel,” he said. “One option is to introduce road user charges. The technology is now available for collecting such charges.”

Other countries like Singapore have introduce such road user charges as well as high vehicle ownership taxes to control traffic congestion.

But such proposals would have to go hand-in-hand with improvements to the public transport system, like bus and railway, to make it more comfortable and organised while keeping it affordable.

A shift from private vehicle usage to using public transport is needed, he said.

“Colombo should try to maintain at least a 50 percent public transport share and restrict car ownership or use,” Kumarage said

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