Kathmandu, January 23
The government has decided to take back Rs three billion that it had provided to Sajha Yatayat for the procurement of 300 electric buses owing to sluggish progress made by the company in the procurement process.
Informing about the decisions made by the Cabinet at a press conference here today, Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Gokul Prasad Baskota, said that the government was retracting the given amount from Sajha along with interest applicable from the date the fund was released to the company.
Moreover, the Cabinet has also decided to allow the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) to purchase 300 electric buses.
“The Ministry of Finance has already decided to release Rs three billion to MoPIT for the purpose,” informed Baskota.
With the objective of promoting electric vehicles for public transportation, the government in July last year had provided Rs three billion to Sajha Yatayat for procurement of 300 electric buses. The government had asked the company to purchase these buses within mid-November.
However, Sajha had been saying that to procure 300 electric buses within mid-November from India and China without government-to-government agreement was not possible and failed to initiate the procurement process of the buses within the given time.
Similarly, the company’s specifications for the buses also allegedly did not match the government set standards.
Against this backdrop, the government had ordered Sajha Yatayat to temporarily halt the process to purchase these buses in October last year. Back then, the government had also sought clarification from Sajha for the delay in the procurement process of its buses.
Meanwhile, Kanak Mani Dixit, chairperson of Sajha Yatayat, refuted that the company has made any delay in procurement of the electric buses.
As per him, Sajha had written a letter to the government after it was asked to halt the procurement process seeking guidance for further steps. “However, we did not receive any response from the government,” he claimed adding, “Moreover, we were given only 28 days to prepare the specifications of electric buses to be purchased even though bringing in such e-buses was a novelty in the country.”
Dixit further alleged that it was actually the government that had delayed the bus procurement process.
“The decision to retract the amount signals that the government has lost the faith and confidence with which it had assigned us the responsibility of procuring the electric buses,” he added.
A version of this article appears in print on January 24, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.