Electric buses unveiled by PM languishing at garage

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KATHMANDU, Feb 21: Five electric buses procured from BYD Auto Industry Company Ltd in China has been languishing at their garage as the government shows reluctance to bring them into operation citing ‘technical faults’ in the buses.

The government’s apathy toward bringing these buses into operation comes even after a third party inspection concluded that these buses comply with all requirements and specifications mentioned in contract document.

As the government refuses to register these buses amid allegations of technical faults in these eco-friendly buses, they lie idle in a garage in Naxal.

The buses were procured by Lumbini Development Trust with the assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB) to ferry passengers from under-construction Lumbini International Airport to Lumbini and vice versa.

There were supposed to be operated by Sajha Yatayat until Lumbini International Airport comes into operation. However, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation – the parent ministry of Lumbini Development Trust – is not taking any initiative to bring these buses into operation even though it has been nearly four months since they were inaugurated.

Two buses imported in the first lot were inaugurated on October 23, 2018 by Prime Minister Khadka Prasad Oli and other ministers.

The prime minister and other ministers traveled on the buses to their offices in Singha Durbar that day. These buses, plus three others delivered later, have remained off the road ever since.

Following reports of technical issues including allegations that the buses were not built in China, the tourism ministry formed a technical team to investigate into the alleged discrepancies in the electric buses. The technical ream had recommended to the ministry “to not accept goods as it is delivered by the BYD”.

The recommendation has complicated the matter further as the ministry has not take any decision on the issue since then.

The delay by the ministry to resolve the issue is also reportedly upsetting the PM Secretariat as the buses were inaugurated by the  prime minister amid fanfare.

One of the major technical shortcomings in the electric buses is related to maximum cruising limit. Maximum cruising limit refers to the maximum distance from a base that the fuel capacity of a vehicle allows it to travel and then return safely at cruising speed.

While the technical committee concluded that range of the buses is less than 200 kilometers, a third party inspection by the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT), India, found that the range was satisfactory as per the tender requirement.

Sources at the BYD said the ministry’s technical team did not carry out the range test in a proper way.

Ghanashyam Upadhyay, a joint secretary at the tourism ministry, said that the ministry has not been able to resolve the matter yet. “There is no new development in bringing these buses into operation,” told Upadhyay .

 

Source: My Republica