This article was published on MYREPUBLICA (31 July, 2012)
In a bid to promote clean technology in the country, Nepal has more than 700 electric vehicles (Safa tempos) running in the valley—a commendable effort to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels. Safa tempos are best driven for short distances and at relatively slow speeds, all of which suits the natural topography of Kathmandu valley. These green machines, which are mostly operated by women drivers, hold a lot of potential for the country’s economy and can tap Nepal’s massive hydropower potential to create a regional energy grid that contributes significantly in reducing GHG emission in the region.
The Trolley Bus Service
The interurban line (Trolley Bus Service) that connects Kathmandu to the satellite towns ceased its operation around November 2008. Established in 1975 and managed by the Nepal Trolley Bus Service (NTBS) of Nepal Transportation Corporation (NTC), the system functioned well in its early stages. At that time, this was one of the cheapest and most desirable modes of transport in the valley. With the change in political set up in the country in the 1990s, the management of the trolley bus service encountered hostile government bureaucracy and the organization’s overstaffing resulted in huge losses for NTBS. The revenue collected from fares was not enough to pay even the electricity bills or staff salaries. Currently, its office compound at Baneshwar is occupied by another implausible project, the Melamchi Water Supply. A part of its space is managed as battery charging station for Safa tempos, where they get uninterrupted electric supply even during load shedding.
THE BIRTH OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES
The advent of Safa Tempo’s in Kathmandu has replaced the notoriously environment unfriendly Vikram tempos that run on diesel. The development and promotion of Safa tempos in Nepal was initially supported through international projects. This later developed into a bigger EV industry with over 700 Safa tempos operating in more than 13 routes in Kathmandu. The journey was not as simple for other electric vehicles. When the first REVA car arrived in February 2001, it was bunged at the customs office for several months due to customs duty and additional special taxes. There are other similar stories for four and two wheeler electric vehicles that faced enormous challenges at all stages of import, registration and deployment to road and users.
Today, there are more than 700 three wheeler, approximately 1500 two wheeler and few four wheeler electric vehicles on our roads.
The prevailing law does not recognize a two wheeler as a