Nepal | May 27, 2020

Lack of policies hits operation of electric vehicles

Umesh Poudel
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electric bus, electric vehicles

Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/ THT

Kathmandu, May 6

Lack of proper government policies and laws has put operators of public electric vehicles in a jam.

Bhesh Bahadur Thapa, chairman of Sundar Yatayat Pvt Ltd, said his company had bought two 40-seater electric buses and placed the order for seven more. “If the government gave its goahead today, we could operate air-conditioned buses within the Ring Road of Kathmandu valley in 15 days,” he claimed, adding, “However, the vehicles are gathering dust because the related laws are yet to be formulated.”

Earlier, the government had announced that 300 electric buses would be brought into operation in major cities across the country. Promotion of electric vehicles was part of the government’s 2018-19 policies and programmes and also featured in the policies and programmes for the next fiscal year.

While making the announcement, the government had stated that introduction of electric vehicles as public transport would revolutionise the sector and minimise air pollution.

Government officials attributed the delay in formulating policies to ‘lack of expertise’. “Because operating public electric vehicles is a new thing, we need to do more extensive homework to come up with comprehensive policies,” said Shiva Hari Sapkota, spokesperson for the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport.

However, at the same time, private operators fear for their investment.

“We have already paid Rs 15 million each for the electric buses and Rs 25 million for seven charging stations,” said Thapa, adding installation of the Euro standard charging stations has also been stalled because there is no clear policy.

He further accused the government of dragging its feet in finalising the rate of electricity per unit for electric vehicles and the fare of public vehicles. “Lofty talks are never translated into action here.”

Meanwhile, Nepal Electricity Authority, which is responsible for fixing power tariff, and the Department of Transport Management, which is responsible for fixing transport fare, have already forwarded their proposals to the ministries concerned.

According to Prabin Aryal, joint secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, the ministry has already formed a committee to finalise electricity tariff. “The committee is also looking into security, monitoring and regulation, which is causing the delay.”

MoPIT Spokesperson Sapkota, on the other hand, admitted that the ministry had not done much to act on the proposal. An official of the ministry, seeking anonymity, said the delay could be attributed to lack of interest by the minister.

Thapa said since the government had not yet formulated the required policies, the company was forced to pay 35 per cent customs duty on the electric vehicles, whereas the government had earlier said that public electric vehicles could be imported at one per cent customs duty.

A version of this article appears in print on May 07, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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