In the last nine months, Nepal spent Rs218 billion importing petroleum products, which is 82% higher compared to the same period last year. This is nearly 20% of the country’s total imports, and is worth nearly double the income from all exports.
Switching to electric public transport and battery vehicles to reduce the petroleum import bill by just 10% would save the county at least Rs21 billion a year.
However, from July-December 2021, Bagmati Province alone saw the registration of 81,227 new vehicles, 75,573 of which were motorcycles and scooters. If they had been electric two-wheelers, fuel costs would have been reduced.
“At this rate, we are fast approaching the fate of Sri Lanka and the only way ahead is maximising the use of domestically generated electricity primarily in the transport sector,” says Bhushan Tuladhar, board member of Sajha Yatayat which is starting electric buses in Kathmandu starting this week.
“We have policies in place, but crucial details are missing such as how to incentivise electric buses, dedicated charging stations and coordinated management of public transport,” Tuladhar adds.
Electric mass transit has long been identified as a cost-effective solution, and the government needs to facilitate loans for electric buses which are about five times more expensive than diesel ones, or subsidise them so that the private sector can invest in them.
Industry experts are reworking Nepal’s Nationally Determined Contribution target submitted to the UNFCCC (Framework Convention on Climate Change) in 2021 with a particular focus on electric public transport.