Bartsham Shongphu MP Passang Dorji raised questions on the government’s plan to adopt electric cars to promote sustainable and inclusive transportation system during the Question Hour Session of the National Assembly (NA).
He informed the House that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), in its annual report 2014, stated that the former government’s order to allow the import of second hand electric vehicles has violated the provisions of the Constitution and the Rules and Procedures for Imports from Third Countries, 2001.
He said, “The government approved the import of second hand electric Nissan Leaf vehicles to be used as taxis in the country. The move received strong objection from the National Council during its 13th Session in June last year during a deliberation on a policy review the council had conducted on the decision.”
He also stated that the then government signing MoUs with two companies has challenged the provisions of the Constitution that provides for fair market competition, and has given excessive benefits to private interests of the two local dealers of NISSAN Motors and Mahindra Reva.
Information and Communications Minister, Karma Donnen Wangdi, said that preservation of the environment is one of the four pillars of Gross National Happiness (GNH), and therefore, the government is determined to promote a green and inclusive transportation system.
He said, “In 2011, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) came up with the Bhutan Transport 2014 and Integrated Strategic Vision. In 2012, after carrying out detailed study on urban transport system, we came up with a comprehensive report on this. In 2017, MoIC in collaboration with the National Environment Commission (NEC) prepared a report on Low Emission Development Strategy for Transportation Sector, 2017.”
Lyonpo said there are plans to provide public transport services in 150 gewogs from 143 gewogs at present. There is 60 percent loan subsidy on purchase of public buses in rural areas so as to promote and develop an inclusive public transportation system. “In order to make travelling convenient and comfortable for disabled people, we have instituted wheelchair services in the buses. In Thimphu and Phuentsholing thromdes, we have installed wheelchair ramps in public transport stations.”
The project is worth USD 2.64 million and is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nation Development Programme (UNDP). It was signed between MoIC and UNDP on 28 September 2018. The project consists of three important components, like policy and regulatory development system, awareness raising and capacity building and investment support.
Lyonpo said, “The project will work on the replacement of 300 internal combustion engine taxis with electric vehicles, and we also have plans to install quick charging stations over a period of three years. So far, we have identified 55 locations to install quick charging stations.”
He said, “ACC has made it clear that government should work on discouraging the use of second hand electric vehicle and the current law also discourages people from using second hand electric vehicle.”
He further added that the government is working on the possibilities to get funds from Global Environment Fund to institute 10 electric buses and put in place the infrastructure and services required to adopt an electric transportation system.