Sept 12, 2017 (LBO) - Sri Lanka plans to pilot flexible working hours for public servants in Battaramulla commencing 18th September, an official said. "Under the scheme, public sector employees in Battaramulla will be able to start work between 7.30 a.m. and 9.30 a.m. and finish between 3.00 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. after completing a shift of eight hours," P Dissanayake, deputy project director of transport development, Megapolis and Western Development Ministry, told Lanka Business Online. "The respective department or institution will have to prepare a shift for the employees to ensure that the public will not be affected.” Cabinet approval was given for the plan which is intended mainly to reduce traffic volume and congestion during peak times by shifting drivers to less congested hours and spreading of the peak period. Initially it will be run as a pilot project for three months, and depending on the success of the programme, the scheme would be introduced to other areas including Colombo. Experts say that Colombo traffic congestion has escalated in the last year and could affect productivity of the national economy. Flexible schedule hours could increase productivity of the employee and reduce cost of overtime and sick leave for institutions, Dissanayake said. "We are also looking at the possibility of using new communication technologies to encourage employees to work from their home as well." Other measures for transport demand management in the Ministry's Megapolis plan are vehicular parking management, intersection control, traffic flow management and road pricing of entry roads to core areas. “The transport system of the country, particularly what is currently operating in the Western Region, calls for major strategic interventions not only to efficiently drive the growth of the national economy, but also to avoid retardation of the whole economy due to fast intensifying congestion on the roads,” the plan states. Transport demand management, together with public transport improvement, road infrastructure development and environmental sustainability, are seen as the broad areas for intervention to address transport issues. The Government is likely to propose the flexible working hours system to the private sector also, Dissanayake added.