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Bhutan Sustainable Low-emission Urban Transport System

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) held an Inception workshop for Bhutan Sustainable Low-emission Urban Trans­port System, funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) with total financing of USD 2.65 million this week. The project aims to facili­tate low-carbon transition in urban Bhutan by promot­ing the use of low emission vehicles (LEV). In specific, the project will launch 300 numbers of electric vehicles replacing with the internal combustion engine vehicles as a preferred fuel source of transport in the urban sectors of the country. The project will be implemented for a period of three years starting from July 23, 2019 to July 22, 2021.

Officiating Secretary of MoIC said that the ministry will discuss more with stake holders and review the draft. He said, “LEV car priority should become a norm for customers in future.” The ministry led following three points for discussion;

Suggestion on the EV suppliers

Support from EV sup­pliers for installing Quick Charging Station.

Modality of distribution/ allocations.

The workshop was the discussion between different stake holders like local finan­cial institutions, regulators, the vehicle companies and Bhutan Taxi Association. Samden Vehicles Private Limited, Dawa Lham sug­gested that the Government must have a selected brand for the vehicles. She added, “We are the suppliers sup­plying only the cars but not the charging station. And the charging station is a dif­ferent company. So, the gov­ernment must make the pro­visions based on promoting LEVs by establishing more charging stations in suitable locations.”

The project intends to re­move policy and regulations that obstructs the growth of LEV markets. Initially, the workshop was to cre­ate and develop awareness, clear misperceptions and re­strains regarding the LEVs of the wide range transport stakeholders to promote the standards of such vehicles. Regional Technical Special­ist from GEF under United Nations Development Pro­gramme, K Usha Rao stated that in monitoring the proj­ect, GEF maintains certain specification and require­ments for the stake holders to fulfill the main motive of such projects.

Furthermore, the acces­sibility to finance the LEVs, and the availability of the sales service and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) were found out to be the key to tackle the chal­lenges of the project and attract the potential buyers. In addition, the project will collaborate with the local financial institutions to de­sign and implement ideal financial support measures and product for EVs. It will enhance the number of charging station across the country and built a valuable business model to secure its sustainability, reliability and further growth in ac­cordance with the suitability of the road terrains of the country.

Regarding the potential buyers, the project targets the taxi sectors of the coun­try and expects the EVs (tax­is) to increase by four times in the next three years of implementation. However, Officiating vice president, Dorji Wangchuk from Bhu­tan Taxi Association (BTA) raised concerns for the driv­ers who had already bought new combustion engine vehicles and have existing loans. In retrospect to the concerns, he also suggested the MOIC to collaborate with BTA in the selection of the brand of EVs.

According to the press re­lease, the project is expected to establish an ecosystem to promote sustainable and inclusive transportation ser­vice which is safe, reliable, accessible and affordable for all, and to contribute to the goal of remaining car­bon neutral at all times. Officiating MoIC secretary said, “It is not the MOIC’s project, it is the nation’s project.” The project is a na­tional significance for its di­rect effects on reducing the emission from the transport sector. As a result, the proj­ect can strengthen the con­servation of environment which is one of the four pil­lars of Gross National Hap­piness.

 

 

By Kinley Wangchuk

 

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