Learning Curves: Support for Sri Lanka’s Transport Sector

Date: December 2012
Type: Papers and Briefs
Evaluation; Transport and ICT
Series: Learning Curves


ADB has supported the country’s transport sector since the 1970s, focusing mainly on road rehabilitation, but much work needs to be done. A considerable amount of Sri Lanka’s road network has not been properly maintained, with years of civil conflict adding to the neglect and damage in some areas. More than 50% of national roads have poor surfaces, and many are seriously congested. Investments in new highways or the widening of existing roads have not kept up with economic growth, as road sector investment during the past decade concentrated on rehabilitation of the existing network.

This Learning Curve provides an overview of the evaluation on ADB’s support for the transport sector in Sri Lanka. It aims to provide an independent assessment of ADB support between 1999 and 2010 to the Sri Lanka transport sector, to identify areas for improving the effectiveness of ADB’s interventions, and to provide evaluation lessons and recommendations.

This evaluation finds ADB’s transport sector program in Sri Lanka less than successful. Some of ADB’s interventions have not been accomplished, or are not likely to fully accomplish their intended outcomes. Some projects have been overambitious in their results targeting and schedules. Lack of proper consideration of design aspects has led to 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.