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Tue, 02 September 2014 15:44:48
Sri Lanka expressway closed for buses: minister
17 Oct, 2011 17:25:39
By Jayantha Kovilagodage
Oct 17, 2011 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's first expressway which is to be opened in November will be closed for passenger buses, highways minister Nirmala Kothelawala said.
"No state or private buses will be allowed on this road," Kothelawala. "Though there was a plan to allow buses at first we dropped it.

He said this was because buses in Sri Lanka were not of a sufficient standard to travel at high speeds on an expressway and be safe enough for passengers.

However, even now passenger buses travel at breakneck speeds on narrower roads with sharper curves.

The expressway runs from Colombo to Galle. It is Sri Lanka's first toll road.

The road is expected to be opened for traffic in November, the minister said.

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READER COMMENT(S)
19. Rohan Samarajiva Jan 03
Appears the government listens. Buses are running on the Southern Expressway.
18. ANALYST Oct 19
Ditto PROF.RJ:
I commented on ur last post on the expressway that people in SL may not be good drivers on a freeway. Driving at high speeds requires skills which few may have in our country after years of driving on our roads. As a person living in the mIddle East i drive at speeds in excess of 100kmph on a daily basis. You am sure is aware that the ME has a very high rate of accidents. MOst of them are caused by not adhering o road rules and the biggest vice all over the world, mobile phones.

U may be amazed if u travelled here at the number of people who TXT while driving at 120kmph!

The first principle of freeways is you assume the person in front is driving as fast as you or faster and that he will not make sudden manuvers like braking turning skipping lanes etc. Even at slow speeds how many people drive at constant speeds on our roads? Some people do 40 on the fast lane and force others to overtake from left (the wrong side). SOme people search for shops or lanes or whatever at 10kmph holding up everyone behind. Some people see a shop they like and make about turns. Some with modified engines zig zag in the traffic without considering the people who have to break to avoid accidents. This is assuming on ly cars and vans on the road. If we start adding 3 wheelers motorcycles private buses and the heavy vehicles into the pot it becomes a real masala sup!

So ur suggestion that people need to be examined of their driving skills to chk if they can drive on a freeway is very valid. In fact in Australia (ACT) part of the driving teat is a drive on a freeway at 100kmph (they dont drive as fast as in ME), given the various exits and lanes and all to see how disciplined u r. In Singapore there are roads that have 80kmph speed limit but the police do not intervene or fine people who do 100, as long as they stick to one lane and do not hinder other peoples' progress. Then again Singapore is a highly disciplined society so there are hardly errant drivers.

Some people think becoz of the center island there will be less accidents. WELL time will tell if this is the case or if given the illdiscipline in our society will manifest on the expressway too.
cheers

17. Rohan Samarajiva Oct 19
Appears some are for special tests for buses and bus drivers getting on the expressway. Last I recall the Constitution said no discrimination. Such tests should also apply to car drivers. Or we should have an expressway endorsement on licenses.

Be interesting to see how many of the anti-bus commenters will agree to go through special tests to get on the highway. They may think their driving is perfect, but others may not.

Someone may take the government to court on violation of the Constitution if the Minister does not correct himself and remove the bus ban.

16. Nicole Phillips Oct 18
I do believe it is also their right to live happy and die of old age rather than in a horrific accident on one of sri lanka's roads...

if the buses are capable of maintaining high speeds without falling apart and the drivers are capable of driving them in an orderly fashion i dont see any problem with having buses on the expressway but most of the readers can testify to the skills of our bus drivers and the state of the buses...

hence it would not be advisable to have buses on the expressway

15. SAM Oct 18
It's very unfair nor. Those people who travel in buses are the low income people in Sri Lanka who also pay taxes to build such highways. So, this law will contravene their right to use those highways. I think they are also willing to go home and be with their families as well as others who use their own vehicles. please reconsider.
14. Kamal Oct 18
You say... "even now passenger buses travel at breakneck speeds".

Just because they do it now, breaking the law in the process, does not mean they should be given permission to do it within the law.

13. as Oct 18
There are usually only a 'pit stops' on expressways for buses.

And most reconditioned buses in Sri Lanka have probably run many times on Japanese expressways. Also India has enough toll roads etc.

If fact we need a new breed of buses to travel on the dangerously narrow existing roads. Expressways especially in Asia - where there is no snow and other dangers - are usually pretty quiet and drivers should guard against falling asleep.

This move smells bad.

12. Rohan Samarajiva Oct 18
The comment about bus stops is inane.
Express buses that go from one point to another without stops are very common.

So there'd be Colombo-Galle buses; Colombo-Ambalangoda buses and so on. Ambalangoda passengers will not be able to take the Galle bus, unless the bus operator decides to take the bus off the highway in A'goda and come back after dropping off/picking up passengers.

11. Ura Oct 18
If you read the previous comments, you would see that there are many who complain about the maniac bus drivers who drive the Galle Road. Personally, I also have many experiences driving off the Galle road to avoid a head on collision with a bus driven at high-speed towards me. Police do not take any action on these drivers because the bus owners are either Police Officers or Politicians.

In a way I feel those angry mobs who burn the buses when an accident occur are fair, given how the buses are driven. In fact, I think we should be thankful to these angry mobs for not throwing the drivers into the flames :D

10. Andare Oct 18
A proper call by the Hon. Minister. If buses were allowed there will definitely be many many deaths on the expressway.

But Hon. Mnisiter, you can take steps to create a separate bus service for the Expressway, with proper buses and most importantly, properly trained and disciplined drivers. This move would be essential for the general public to accrue the benefits of the highway.

9. DillonDP Oct 18
Well do agree with the bus, cause i dont think you can have bus halts in the high way,,,, it does not make sense, however they should also ensure motorist too opt for the highway if not it does not makes sense as the traffic would still prevail
8. ihi Oct 18
Irrespective of the quality of vehicle i doubt there will be more accidents. actually there will be much less accidents because there is no chances of head on collisions (especially when overtaking), there cannot be incidents of pedestrians accidents, there are no bus halts (another point of accidents), there are no 3 wheels and bikes who drives around vehicles and cause accidents).

Accidents caused when overtaking a vehicle is much less anyway. Only worry is lorries and errant van drivers - but If they strictly impose lane rules that heavy vehicles to go only on one lane there will be much less accidents.

7. Abdul Oct 18
Then you will have to keep F1 there surely,or you are trying to tell it is only for VIPs
6. analyst Oct 18
In Prof.RS' column on this subject published here some time back i querried if sri lankan has 1. capable drivers 2. suitable vehicles 3. the required infrastructure for such a road use. Drivers in SL are illdisciplined and the private bus drivers are the worst. Anyone who has driven along galle road to galle on a week day would agree with this fact.

The vehicles in SL are not suited for this kind of road ; or shud i say only few people have suitable vehicles for fast driving.

I remember one person had a question for me: just because the road is there and you have a vehicle do you have to travel at 100kmph? i thought it was a funny question, becoz, why does a country spend billions of taxpayers money and build a freeway (well its not free so lets call it an expressway) if no one is going to travel fast or at the same 70kmph on other roads? the issue here is are the buses in our country capable of safely travelling at 80+kmph? Come to the MIddle East and there are so many Japanese built luxury buses that ply distances in excess of 500km at 100kmph. but these are purpose built.

If buses are to be allowed on the expressway then we need new comfortable and safe ones, not the rikrak that is owning the roads right now.

Prof. RS' has a valid comment on using everyones' money for the benefit of a few. But then it was the case from the start as not many people have vehicles for fast driving (people can try but it may be at the risk of their safety).

5. Tito Oct 18
Majority of bus drivers do not have a proper dicipline on the roads and everywhere on the highway, road they will make bus stand/ holts. Good idea to ban only passenger buses.
4. Makaza Oct 18
Some cynics might suggest that the planned luxury buses have been dropped because of the opposition of the numerous companies providing car / van transfers to Galle and beyond at $70 -$90 a time. Such a suggestion would be disgraceful. The last thing tourists want is fast efficient and cheap option to transfer from the airport to Galle.

Tourist will be delighted to have the opportunity to pay a $50 visa fee each AND an $80 transfer fee. Keep up the good work and you should be able to get tourist arrivals back down to the level that existed during the war.

3. Ashok Oct 17
Good idea mnister.Never let those murderers to be there as they have no regards for human life.
2. Rohan Samarajiva Oct 17
Someone please educate the Deputy Minister: what is not safe is the old Galle Road where head-on collisions are an imminent possibility at all times.

And what is the message the government is giving our people? Expressways are only for the miniscule minority owning cars and vans, but are paid for by all? See the data on vehicle ownership at http://lbo.lk/fullstory.php?nid=1489457800 (Figure 2). So 10 percent of households in the Western Province and 5 percent in the Southern Province are the principal beneficiaries of this public investment?

I agree we need to exclude three wheelers and vehicles that cannot maintain the minimum speeds. But please do not ban buses. This is an anti-poor policy.

1. Niro Oct 17
How about the competency of the drivers to use the expressway?

At least some basic training has to be given to the drivers. Otherwise catastrophic accidents are inevitable.