Vehicle registrations in October remained virtually unchanged from a month ago as the buyers were awaiting direction from the national budget presented in November.
According to the monthly vehicle registration tracker by leading stockbroking house J B Securities, a total of 37,411 new vehicles were registered in October, little changed from 36,994 a month earlier and 43,807 in the corresponding month of the previous year.
However, this October’s number is significantly down from over 60,000 monthly registrations recorded in 2015, when the loose money and fiscal policies opened flood gates for vehicle imports.
Vehicle imports to Sri Lanka reached an untenable level during 2015 and 2016, which resulted in massive traffic jams killing precious man hours and wasting imported fuel.
The budget 2018, albeit being one of the most progressive budgets in the post-liberalised Sri Lanka, does not allocate funds to build a solid public transport network—the only sustainable solution to traffic congestion—instead offers lower tax rates on importation of electric vehicles and cars with smaller engine capacities.
This will further aggravate the traffic congestion on Sri Lankan roads, specially in the capital Colombo and suburbs.
Countries like Singapore have extremely comfortable and efficient public transport systems and discourage vehicle ownership.
The city state in October took a policy decision to cut the annual growth rate of motor cars and motorcycles to zero from 0.25 percent effective from February 2018.
Colombo ranks fifth out of the 10 cities in the world with worst traffic congestion, according to Bloomberg.
It was recently reported by international media that traffic in Manila, the Philippines is so bad that workers are moving into dorms within the city and the investors are cashing in on the opportunity by developing dormitories.
Metro Manila has been voted the world’s worst city to drive in, according to a driver satisfaction index in 2015, while the economic cost of the congestion in the Philippines is measured as 2.4 billion pesos a day.
The economic cost of congestion in Sri Lanka could be even higher as Colombo has a ranking worse than Manila in terms of traffic.
Meanwhile, according to the J B Securities’ category-wise vehicle registration compilation, 2,124 cars were registered in October, a little down from 2,498 in September, while 2,155 three-wheelers and 28,564 two-wheelers were also registered.
Sri Lanka is one of the worst countries for road fatalities as the majority of drivers and pedestrians show scant regard for road rules.
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