Electric vehicle stuck in Lumbini for two years, confusion in operation process
Buses and vans have been parked outside the central office premises of the Lumbini Development Fund in Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, for more than two years.
Those buses and vans are very attractive to anyone who sees them. Those electric (electric bus) vehicles with state-of-the-art service facilities have been standing still for more than two years.
Foreign donor agencies have provided these facilities as a grant to connect Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini and Buddha’s place Tilaurakot, Ramgram and Devdah Sang from Gautam Buddha International Airport located in Bhairawa and to facilitate the movement of tourists in those areas.
Even though the vehicles provided by foreign donor agencies are parked under the open sky, the interest of the concerned agencies has not reached for the management.
These electric buses and taxis were brought to Lumbini on 9th March 2077 to make Lumbini pollution free. However, due to the delay in the necessary legal process and the non-availability of operational modalities, they have been stuck under the open sky for more than two years.
The Lumbini Development Fund has received electric vehicles under the clean energy project with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADV) at a cost of 3 crore rupees.
When these electric vehicles were imported into Nepal, the government incurred more than three and a half million rupees in customs revenue. For these vehicles, a charging station has also been built in Lumbini with an investment of 130.9 million rupees.
These vehicles, which come under the federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, are likely to get damaged if they stay under the open sky for a long time. Tires and batteries of some of the parked vehicles are starting to deteriorate due to lack of charge.
Confusion has been seen in the operation process of five 19-seat capacity buses and 14 five-seat capacity vans brought for the tourist facilities of Lumbini and related Buddhist areas. These electric vehicles with state-of-the-art facilities are equipped with automatic doors and are disabled friendly.
Vice President of Siddharth Hotel Association, Meghnath Acharya, says that by keeping the subsidized vehicles brought by the Lumbini Development Fund to serve the public in the open square, it is a work to damage the property of the state. He said that the modality of its operation should be made by the Lumbini Development Fund itself.
He said, ‘If it is taken to the private sector or any other model, after a few years these vehicles will become unusable.’ He says that even though the development fund kept cars worth crores of rupees in storage for such a long time, they did not discuss the issue with anyone.
He says that it is a matter of surprise that it took three years to change the operating pattern and vehicle number plate. “Government vehicles can be changed from white number plates to red or green in one day, but they have been involved in various pretexts,” he said.
The Lumbini Development Fund had operated five buses as a test to serve passengers on Dashain, Tihar and Chhath festivals from October 13th. Free service was provided in the buses that were operated as a test throughout the festival period.
As a test, five buses were conducted from Lumbini to Tilaurakot area of Kapilvastu, from Lumbini to Belhia on the border of Bhairawa via Gautam Buddha International Airport, from Lumbini to Gautam Buddha International Airport to Devdah, Buddha Mawlisthal and from Lumbini to Goalpark in Butwal via Buddhachowk in Bhairawa. However, after the festival, the buses have not been able to come into operation.
President of Nepal Association of Travels and Tour Agents (Natta) Lumbini Province, Rachna Pant said that it is not a good message to keep the vehicles given by the donor agencies for a long time to be confused in their operation process for the purpose of promoting tourism in Lumbini.
She also mentioned that she has spoken to the officials of the development fund to entrust the operation to the private sector association active in the field of tourism promotion of Lumbini.
President Pant said that if the private sector is given responsibility for the operation of these vehicles by monitoring the vehicle development fund, its operation will be long-term.
“No matter what happens, it is not good to be unable to operate for such a long time”, she said.
The Treasurer of Lumbini Development Fund, Dhundhiraj Bhattarai, says that since the buses coming to Lumbini are aimed at tourists, the green number plate should be converted from government number plate, but the development fund has written to the Federal Ministry of Tourism for the necessary decision, but the decision has been delayed.
“The regulatory body should clear the way for the conversion from white plate to green plate”, he said, “We have written for that on behalf of the development fund, but due to the delay from the federal ministry, discussions are also going on about getting a decision from the state government.”
He also said that last October, the bus was operated within the greater Lumbini area to test the vehicle and the test was successful according to the condition of the vehicle and the road.
‘We have studied the condition of the vehicles and the road, how far they can go inside the main highway’, he said, ‘from the test, these buses can be operated well in the Buddhist circuit within the greater Lumbini.’
He said that the operation pattern of these vehicles has not been decided yet, but the operation pattern will be prepared to operate the charging station along with the vehicles.
He said, ‘First, the fund will operate by itself and after some time, it is also possible to go towards a commercial private or partnership model which is suitable.’
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