Secretary 'lied about' make of electric buses, documents show

Published On: February 23, 2019 10:05 AM NPT By: Republica

Multiple documents show that the country of origin of the vehicles is China.

KATHMANDU, Feb 23: Though some senior officials of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) earlier claimed that the BYD buses imported by the government were produced in India, multiple documents obtained by Republica including a letter from the ministry show that the country of origin of the vehicles is China.

In his speech at a farewell ceremony held on Thursday, Secretary Krishna Devkota, who was recently transferred to Ministry of Youth from MoCTCA had claimed that the buses were made in India and he was transferred after he refused to approve a file that stated that said the buses were made in China.

Five electric buses procured from BYD Auto Industry Company Ltd in China have been languishing at a garage in Naxal after senior officials including Devkota showed reluctance to bring them into operation citing 'technical defects' in the buses including speculations that the buses were manufactured in India, instead of China as required by the tender document.

However, a letter from the MoCTCA dated August 21, 2018 written to the Bhairahawa Customs Office for customs clearance shows the vehicles were imported from China.

But Republica contacted Devkota, he refused to comment saying he is no more concerned with the ministry.

Similarly, a third-party inspection report of BYD buses has also concluded that the buses were manufactured in China. The inspection report prepared by India's Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) on February 12 shared its observation that those buses were manufactured in China in line with the contract specification requirement in the tender document of the procurement and supply of electric buses.

Even the Bill of Lading—a detailed list of a ship's cargo in the form of a receipt given by the carrier—shows that Guanzhou Perfect International Logistics Ltd shipped those electric buses with certificate of Origin of The People's Republic of China from Shenzhen to Hyderabad (India) to Nepal.

Amid concerns that the buses were manufactured in India, BYD Auto Industry Company Ltd, the manufacturers of electric buses, has also sent clarification to the MoCTCA in August last year confirming that 'all the buses are 100 percent BYD's electric vehicle technologies, powered by BYD and warranted by BYD Auto Industry Company Ltd'.

The buses were procured by Lumbini Development Trust with the assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB) to ferry passengers from the under-construction Lumbini International Airport to Lumbini.

They were supposed to be operated by Sajha Yatayat until Lumbini International Airport comes into operation. However, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation – the parent ministry of Lumbini Development Trust – is not taking any initiative to bring these buses into operation even though it has been nearly four months since they were inaugurated.

Two buses imported in the first lot were inaugurated on October 23, 2018 by Prime Minister KP Oli and other ministers.

Though a technical committee formed by the MoCTCA found some technical shortcomings in the electric buses including maximum cruising limit, the third party inspection has found most of the parts, aspects and services complying with requirement set in the tender document. The Central Institute of Road Transport, India (CIRT) has shared its observation that electric buses' maximum cruising range satisfactory. Maximum cruising limit refers to the maximum distance from a base that the fuel capacity of a vehicle allows it to travel and then return safely at cruising speed. While the technical committee concluded that range of the buses is less than 200 kilometers, the CIRT inspection found that the range was satisfactory as per the tender requirement.

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