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