Suburban Sri Lankans spend six years in traffic

ECONOMYNEXT – An average Sri Lankan living in the outer suburbs of the capital Colombo will spend around six years of their life on the road due to traffic congestion, an official who has been working on urban planning and housing said.

"The major gripe everyone has with Colombo is the traffic," John Keells Holdings Property Sector Head Nayana Mawilmada said, who has a background in urban planning.

"If you’re coming from the Rajagiriya side, you spend one and a half hours each day, one way more likely, on the road so it adds up to about 5 or 6 years of your life on the road," he said.

Mawilmada, a former Director General of the state’s Urban Development Authority, said 44 percent of the people coming into the city take up 87 percent of the road space on personal vehicles, due to a lack of quality public transport.

He was speaking at the launch of a flexible loan program for women to purchase John Keells’ TRI-ZEN luxury apartments, as a special offer for women’s month.

Mawilmada said Colombo has been emptying out in the last census period, as more residents seek to own a traditional house in the suburbs.

"Ninety percent of us live in single-family landed houses, which is very different from other cities."

In Singapore, just 5 percent of families live in traditional landed houses, while the figure is 1 percent in Mumbai, 20 percent in Bangkok, 30 percent in Kuala Lumpur and 35 percent in Bangalore, he said.

But traffic jams may reserve the trend.

Mawilmada said as people get tired of congestion, the trend will reverse and demand for apartments will grow in Colombo. Land prices are also starting to appreciate.





"Construction processes are getting more tricky, and it’s hard to find land," he said.

Developers are providing more flexible financing options than ever before, with grace periods on payments, trying to make apartments more attractive. (Colombo/Mar21/2019-SB)

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