Sri Lanka - Country Commercial Guide
Transportation

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-28

Overview

Situated close to some of the world’s most important sea lanes connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe, Sri Lanka has major strategic advantages when it comes to global transport links.  At the same time, the country lies just off the coast of one of the world’s largest and fastest-developing economies – India – while maintaining close economic ties with the PRC.  The railway network only handles a small fraction of the country’s transport needs.  Rail services are primarily for passengers with very little capacity available for goods transportation.  Rail travel is extremely slow by modern standards.  There are multiple navigable waterways, harbors, and two major ports in Colombo and Hambantota.  There are two international airports, one located in Katunayake, 22 miles north of Colombo, and the other in Hambantota.  The lack of non-military airports outside Colombo and Hambantota limits the availability of air service in-country.  Another major target for the road network has been to reduce congestion in Colombo.  The development of Colombo Port City also poses challenges for the road network, with plans to develop commercial and residential real estate adding to downtown congestion.  The main roads around the country are in good condition but are not an efficient means of travel and transportation as the majority of roads are single lane in each direction with no divider.  There are two highways – one from the Katunayake airport to Colombo and the other from Colombo to southern parts of the country.  A highway to the central province is under construction.  During 2020, the Road Development Authority spent about $1 billion on the development of expressways and highways.  The prospects for Sri Lanka’s land transport sector include further expansion, with more efficient road and rail services coming online.  However, plans for major urban development in and around Colombo must be coordinated with the planned development projects.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Airports

Highways

Rail

Ports

Opportunities

The Ministry of Transport has several projects lined up for construction of new roads and railways and their extension.

The Government of Sri Lanka has ongoing plans to create a new international terminal at Colombo International Airport and also has long-term plans to further develop regional airports.

Sri Lanka continues to upgrade its existing seaport facilities, both in Colombo and in the southern and eastern provinces. 

Resources

Sri Lanka Railways                                              

Ministry of Transportation                               

Investment projects 2015-2020                      

Urban Development Authority                       

Sri Lanka Ports Authority