Taxi drivers’ plan to cancel EVs booking

Puran Gurung/ Thimphu With procurement delay of about six to one year for electric vehicles by the procuring agents, some of the taxi drivers booking electric vehicles to drive as taxi is planning to cancel the booking for EVs. Close to a year, the procuring agents are yet to deliver the electric vehicles. Without their vehicles, they are out of work for a year, so, taxi drivers are in a tight position, not only keeping them out of job but also hurting the sustainability of their families too. ‘Some of us are sole bread earner of the family and we can’t stay idle for so long, this is affecting so many aspects of our family,’ says a taxi driver who have booked for electric vehicles. If the government is not intervening and then helping the procuring agents of EVs to deliver our vehicles in a month or two, some of the taxi drivers are planning to cancel the booking. ‘At such times, the government must intervene, if some essential items and other cars are transported inside the country, the government should also bring electric vehicles’ states a taxi driver, he had also placed a booking for electric vehicle. The taxi driver also said that it was as good as supplying essential commodities because for some, driving taxi is the only way to sustain’. There are host of government interventions to procure the electric vehicles. “The government is trying everything to procure those electric vehicles that are booked by the taxi drivers and we will try to bring inside as soon as possible,’ said MoIC Minister, Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi. As some of them are out of job and others performing menial jobs, they are also defaulting loans and facing a hard time to pay their rentals too, claims taxi drivers. The group of taxi drivers procuring electric vehicles are also frustrated to wait and hear no news of getting their electric vehicles anywhere soon. They also shares concern of the government and the pandemic affecting everything and these factors causing the delay in the supply of EVs. Bhutan Taxi Association is constantly receiving complaints from the fellow taxi drivers on delay of EVs. "We have been receiving constant complaints on delay in delivery of the EVs, but it is the current situation of the world that have caused the delay," said President, Bhutan Taxi Association, Rinzin Chophel. Some of the taxi drivers that had earlier sold their taxi to procure the electric vehicles have purchased second-hand cars to drive as taxi. They say that the only issue is the resale value, it will add to the losses they feel. Under the initiative 'Bhutan Sustainable Low-emission Urban Transport System Project', the government 25 Electric Vehicles (EV) public charging stations on Thursday. The charging points are installed in 15 different strategic points across seven districts- Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Phuentsholing, Haa and Samdrup Jongkhar. According to the project officials, one charging station can charge two cars simultaneously. In the 25 charging stations, there are 15 direct current charging stations enabling fast charging and others are alternating current charging stations, these are semi-fast charging ports. The project was expected to complete by February 2021. However, owing to the pandemic, this goal to compete could not be achieved. This project is funded by the United Nations Development Programme, and the government and the project cost is about USD 12,957,726. The project’s expected outcome is sustainable and green economic growth that is equitable, inclusive, climate and disaster resilient and promotes poverty reduction, and employment opportunities particularly for vulnerable groups enhanced’. Meanwhile, UNDP Strategic Plan Output 1.4 (2014-2017) aims to scale up action on climate change adaptation and mitigation, and Strategic Plan Output 2.5.1 (2019-2023) aims to develop solutions, financed and applied at scale for transformation to clean energy and zero-carbon development, for poverty eradication and structural transformation” The transition to electric vehicles particularly taxis, the objective, according to Bhutan Sustainable Low-emission Urban Transport Systems project, it is to facilitate low-carbon transition in the Bhutan’s urban transport sector by promoting wider uptake of low emission vehicles (LEVs), in particular electric vehicles (EVs), as the preferred fuel source for transport in Bhutan.