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Transport systems must shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy- Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana

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Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said it was important to shift from fossil fuel-based transport towards energy-based transport systems, when addressing the “Global Sustainable Transport Forum 2023” in Beijing yesterday.

The Minister also emphasised on coordination, collaboration and participation for regional development through improved quality of transport.

He reiterated the importance of building international relationship with donor agencies and other agencies such as UNDP, UNEP, UNESCAP etc. and formulation of policies and strategies with the help of international experts and expert organizations.

The Minister stressed on digitalization of all services related to transport sector and about financing and investment opportunities to create enabling environment for transport sector modernization specially for the developing countries.

The full speech:

The allocated time does not permit me to elaborate all the above topics but I would like to highlight few essential areas for your concerns.

I would like to highlight about the Energy crisis first, that is becoming a more serious issue not only to my country even in all over the world due to the matters pertaining to extraction or mining of crude oil, coal and limitations in hydropower generations due to climate variability and climate changes. Pricing of petroleum products is gradually going up that cannot afford for some countries due to the financial constraints and also that prevent sustainable and efficient transport systems.

Secondly, the efficient transport systems increase the productivity and economy of the country, but if the country does not have financially strong for purchasing petroleum or other energy products the entire system and supply chain will collapse distorting the total economy.

With the better understanding of energy crisis shifting from fossil fuel-based transport in to energy-based transport system is more important at this juncture. It needs use of renewable energy mostly; solar energy, wind energy, wave energy and hydropower for the transport sector having electric vehicles depending on the requirement.

The new technology, research and development, advanced infrastructure, policy and legislation, education and training are key to this aspect which are connected to more popular topics of implementing “Green Economy” and “Green Transport” concepts.

Thirdly, Conversion of traditional transport systems to modern transport systems, both road infrastructure and vehicle fleet require high investments. This is another critical issue where we face for the transition from inefficient transport modes to efficient transport modes.

Basically, improving the connectivity from seaports and airports to the commercial cities is much needed because it is an integral part of the economic activities and to maintain the sustainable production process.

It is more prominent that improving road infrastructure including railway lines give high economic impact to increase the GDP as well as service sector employment opportunities in any country but financing for the same is the matter.

As a developing country, Sri Lanka move forward to solve the urgent issues especially in the Western Province, having prepared master plans for LRT projects and Highway projects, but due to the financial crisis entails with COVID 19 pandemic we had to stop them temporarily until resolving the financial issues.

Therefore, there is a necessity to get-together to reach the expectation by giving the financial support from able countries and donor agencies to implement such a nature of development programmes under investment modes of PPP, BOO and BOT.

Highlighting the above three elements, I do not forget to mention about the importance of social and environmental sustainability requirements toward green economic transition to create modern infrastructure during the planning and development stage because it is a must for balance of Eco- Systems.

Finally, I wish to appeal to you all, to unite and support developing countries such as Sri Lanka which needs different kinds of support from other developed countries and donor agencies, under the disciplines of promoting regional economic linkage developments.

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