Sajha starts e-bus service in Kathmandu
Sajha Yatayat inaugurated its electric public transport service with three buses on two routes in Kathmandu on Thursday with female drivers and conductors.
The first bus on the Lagankhel-Lainchaur-Budanilkantha route was flagged off by founding chair of the public transport cooperative and former minister Biswa Bandhu Thapa, 95. The other route for the electric buses is Balaju Bus Park -Baneswor-Airport.
This is Sajha’s long-delayed foray into electric public transport and the three Chinese-made CHTC buses will be followed by 37 others in August. In the third phase, Sajha will be inducting intercity electric buses. The government had allocated Rs3 billion for the purchase of the buses.
The shift to electric from diesel comes amidst record-breaking rise in fuel prices in the past year. Diesel prices which had risen to Rs192/l dropped to Rs163/l after the government slashed taxes on the fuel.
But petroleum imports have doubled in the past five years, widening Nepal’s trade deficit with India. Fuel makes up up to 20% of Nepal’s total imports, and is double of all other export items put together.
Economists and climate activists say that if Sajha’s trend is followed, Nepal can reduce its petroleum import, and has a chance of achieving the net-zero carbon target by 2050 that it pledged at COP26 in Glasgow last year under its Nationally Determined Contribution.