This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/22/2019


Sri Lanka has the highest road density of any country in South Asia, with some 173.9 km of roads per 100 square kilometers of land as of 2016, according to the World Bank.  Sri Lanka’s road network consisted of 12,220 kilometers of Class A and Class B roads and 170 kilometers of expressways as at end 2018.  The railway network, largely a legacy of British colonial rule, 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 navigable waterways, harbors and two international airports located in Katunayake, 22 miles north of Colombo and in Hambantota.  The lack of non-military airports outside Colombo limits the availability of air service in-country.  Another major target for the road network has been to reduce congestion in Colombo.  The 2017 budget included plans for elevated highways in the city, connecting Kelani Bridge to the Port of Colombo area and Athurugiriya.  The development of Colombo Port City also poses challenges for the road network, with plans to develop commercial and residential real estate there 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 from the Katunayake airport to Colombo and from near Colombo to southern parts of the country.  A highway to the central province is under construction.  The prospects for Sri Lanka’s land transport sector looks at further expansion, with more efficient road and rail services coming on-line.  However, plans for major urban development in and around Colombo have to be coordinated with the planned development projects.

Leading Sub-Sectors



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 longer term plans to develop a new international airport.  The government also has plans to further develop regional airports.

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

The Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development announced in June 2018 the commencement of acquisition of lands required for the construction of a fully elevated Light Rail Transit (LRT) system in Colombo. According to Ministry officials, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the governmental agency that coordinates official development assistance for the Government of Japan, is expected to provide a loan of $1.7 billion for the project.

Web Resources

Sri Lanka Railways                                  
Ministry of Transportation                      
Investment projects 2015-2020              
Urban Development Authority               
Sri Lanka Ports Authority                       
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Sri Lanka Trade Development and Promotion