“Galle Road on weekdays is what my nightmares look like” somebody wrote on Twitter last week.
This, however, is no exaggeration because those who take these roads on weekdays to work and back know how awful the traffic is especially during office hours. On days there are rallies, protests and demonstrations by university students or Trade Unions, the condition only worsens. There is definitely an increase in the number of traffic alerts posted online every day and this, however, sometimes helps users of social media to avoid traffic or take alternative routes to get around without wasting too much time on the road.
Nation spoke to a few social media users to see what they had to say about the problem of traffic in Colombo. Mihindu Ariyaratne, a singer, said that he didn’t particularly enjoy driving himself around in the city, unless it’s after 9 o’clock in the night. “I avoid driving in Colombo as much as possible. The only alternative is to take longer routes with less traffic but in the end, you’re always late – has happened to me way too many times. I miss the sound checks before concerts sometimes because no matter however early we leave, it always usually takes longer to get to a place than my calculation.”
Speaking to Nation, meanwhile, journalist turned PR professional, Reihan Stephan said that he has started hating Colombo because the traffic seems to be only worsening every day. “One time I had to go for an event in Battaramulla and needed to be there by 6.30pm. So, leaving time for traffic and all I left at 5pm. Guess what time it was when I reached there …,” he paused.
“Eight o’clock! The event was almost over,” he continued. He was, however, of the opinion that one of the main reasons for this traffic is because the drivers are undisciplined, with little or no regard for rules and regulations. “I, as a citizen, think fines should be increased by 200% because then people will think twice before breaking rules – knowing the price they have to pay.”
Jayantha Fernando, who is a professional photographer, too had similar things to say about his driving experience in Colombo. Based in Negombo, he said the worst experience for him is sometimes not being able to make it on time for appointments with doctors. “Happens often,” he said in dismay and disappointment.
Ashan Perera, a Sales Consultant attached to Diesel and Motor Engineering PLC meanwhile said that as much as he deals with vehicles and loves what he does, he didn’t quite enjoy driving in Colombo. “I can say I live close to my workplace but still it takes around 45 minutes for me to get there on a normal, working day,” he said. Adding, he also said that now he prefers to take a taxi than drive because that spares him of the road rage and the stress. “Still it’s a lot of productive time wasted on the road,” he expressed.
Film and television actor, Dasun Pathirana, however has an opinion different to others. According to him, driving in Colombo or anywhere in the country for that matter is easier than driving in other countries of the South Asian Region. Dasun was quite optimistic that conditions will improve or at least will not fall to the level of other countries in the region. When asked what his worst experience was in relation to traffic, Dasun said there was not even one he could recall.
Conclusion: Four out of five drivers hate driving in Colombo. One is hopeful that things might get better.