The Asian Development Bank’s Support for the Transport Sector in Sri Lanka

Date: April 2012
Type: Evaluation Reports
Evaluation; Transport and ICT
Series: Sector Assistance Program Evaluation


Sri Lanka relies heavily on road transport. Some 97% of the country’s freight traffic is by road. But the condition and standards of Sri Lanka’s 113,000-kilometer road network are inadequate to accommodate rapidly growing freight and passenger traffic.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) lending for Sri Lanka’s transport sector started in 1970, and ADB has focused its assistance mainly on roads. Cumulative ADB lending for the sector in Sri Lanka has totaled $1.24 billion. This sector assistance program evaluation focuses on the period 1999–2010, when 10 projects and 14 advisory technical assistance operations were approved.

Using ADB’s standard methodology for weighing various ratings, the overall rating of ADB's assistance program for the transport sector in Sri Lanka is less than successful. The study identifies several lessons that ADB can apply to future support. Project design needs to be undertaken more carefully, and must remain focused to avoid future implementation delays and cost overruns.

Specific recommendations include preparing a long-term capacity development road map for Sri Lanka’s transport sector, and continuing efforts to make the government’s road maintenance fund self-sustainable. On the Southern Expressway, Sri Lanka’s first large-scale greenfield road development opened in November 2011, the study recommends conducting due diligence on the unplanned imposition of tolls on the highway, and a review of safety issues.


  • Introduction
  • Sector Context
  • ADB Strategy and Program
  • Evaluation of ADB Support
  • Conclusions, Lessons, and Recommendations
  • Appendixes
The Asian Development Bank’s Support for the Transport Sector in Sri Lanka