The Government of Sri Lanka has emphasized that strengthened connectivity and seamless passage for peoples of the region would lead to enhanced trade and greater intra-regional people-to-people contact, said Minister of Transport, Dullas Alahapperuma at the Second Meeting of SAARC Ministers of Transport held in Colombo on July 25.
He added it would also contribute to realization of a more integrated region, and assist in finding common solutions to regional problems.
Stressing the vital role of SAARC Transport Ministers in providing impetus and direction to expedite the achievement of a better connected South Asia, the Minister said that it is necessary to work on initiating direct flights between SAARC countries and remove bottlenecks in trans-border movement of goods by land. He further stressed the urgent need to strengthen infrastructure including roads, railways, maritime as well as air transport.
The Ministers reviewed progress in decisions taken at the first ministerial meeting in 2007; considered progress in the implementation of the prioritized recommendations of the SAARC Regional Multimodal Transport Study; deliberated on the various pilot, sub-regional and regional projects proposed; and emphasized the need to operationalize the Infrastructure Window of the SAARC Development Fund for implementing important projects.
They also discussed in detail, matters relating to developing draft regional transport, transit and railway agreements, and decided to constitute an Expert Group to negotiate such agreements in a time bound manner. The SAARC Secretariat was requested in this regard to continue to cooperate with the relevant international organizations including the Asian Development Bank.
It was agreed to recommend to the SAARC Council of Ministers to declare the next decade as the “Decade of Intra-regional Connectivity in SAARC”.