The Asian Development Bank has presented a draft plan with regard to the development of Colombo Fort as a transport hub.
The National Transport Commission confirmed that the draft plan had been submitted last week and while the interim report is expected in March next year, the final report is scheduled to be completed by July or August.
The Commission regulates buses including private buses which travel long distances of over 100 kilometres. These buses travel from areas outside of the Western Province and arrive in Pettah.
According to the proposal, long distance buses will not stop in Fort but will continuously move. Thereby, the parking slots of these buses would be utilised better.
Chairman of the Commission, Engineer M.A.P. Hemachandra said that the Draft Plan was also concerned with the expansion of the Colombo Fort Railway Station.
Meanwhile, he acknowledged that different strategies were required to address the issue of parking spaces for vehicles in Colombo, options of which are presently being discussed with the relevant stakeholders.
Currently, there are a few locations at Bastion Mawatha, Colombo to park buses along with several other sites within the Western Province where buses can be parked.
“The issue however is that buses occupy valuable space which could otherwise be adequately utilized more effectively for better purposes. Buses parked by the side of roads are the cause of various traffic related problems”, Hemachandra noted.
As far as traffic plans are concerned, the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development too is conducting studies with regard to the creation of a metropolitan transport hub. The completion of the outer-circular road is essential for this.
“Instead of having buses come in straight to Pettah after these long distance journeys, can we divert them to another location where there are ample parking spaces? This is the best and easiest option. For example, can we get a Kandy-Colombo bus to go to Maharagama or Panadura or even Kalutara without stopping at Pettah.
“There are however issues with this too. There may not be enough passengers. Also the buses have to incur an extra cost. Discussions are being held in this regard and options are being mulled over,” Hemanchandra explained.